18 June 2018Trademarks

Monster Energy’s opposition to Tencent’s TM fails in Singapore

Energy drinks maker Monster Energy has failed to prevent the registration of ‘Monster Castle’ in Singapore, a trademark covering a game where monsters protect castles from humans.

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) published its decision today, June 18, following a hearing earlier this year.

In 2015, Chinese investment conglomerate Tencent Holdings applied to register a figurative mark containing the words ‘Monster Castle’ for classes 9, 41, and 42.

Players of the mobile game “Monster Castle” use monsters to defend castles from humans, according to the game’s Facebook page. “Monster Castle” is owned by Tencent Games, a subsidiary of Tencent.

The applied-for mark is to be used in connection with the “Monster Castle” game, and covers protective clothing, entertainment services, and computer programming.

Monster, which introduced its Monster Energy drink to the market in 2002, opposed the registration on the basis of 16 registered ‘Monster’ word and figurative marks including ‘Monster Energy’, ‘Monster Detox’, and ‘Java Monster’.

The energy drink maker said its ‘Monster Energy’ mark has a high level of distinctiveness in relation to goods and services in classes 9 and 41, which cover protective clothing and entertainment services.

Monster also argued that there is a high degree of visual similarity between the applied-for mark and ‘Monster Energy’.

In response, Tencent said that ‘Monster Energy’ is “registered in plain font, with the words appearing next to each other”, whereas the applied-for mark has a “stylisation” involving a 3D effect.

IPOS determined that ‘Monster Energy’ has “inherent distinctiveness that is normal, or ordinary, in nature”, and agreed with Tencent that the marks are visually different.

Gabriel Ong Sheng Li, assistant registrar of trademarks at IPOS, said he “cannot simply ignore the word ‘energy’” in the earlier mark, or disregard the word ‘castle’ in the applied-for mark. For the same reason he found the marks to be “aurally more dissimilar than similar”.

As ‘Monster Energy’ brings to mind “the idea of powerful energy” and “the primary concept underlying ‘Monster Castle’ is that of a physical castle inhabited by monsters”, IPOS said the marks are also conceptually dissimilar.

Li concluded that the public are not likely to be “deceived” into believing Tencent’s goods and services are linked to Monster, and rejected Monster’s opposition to the ‘Monster Castle’ trademark.

Monster has also taken action to protect its ‘Monster’ brand in other jurisdictions.

In March, the energy drinks maker filed a lawsuit against a moving company in the US, claiming that Monster Moving uses a “confusingly similar” trade dress in an attempt to “falsely associate” with Monster.

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