17 April 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Philip Morris rebuffed again at UKIPO

Tobacco company  Philip Morris has failed in another effort to block a rival’s UK trademark, which it claimed would cause confusion with its e-vaping product line.

Chinese company  Shenzhen Wanna Tec filed to register the stylised ‘Veeik’ logo at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in 2019, covering tobacco pipes, e-cigarettes, and other smoking-related products in class 34.

According to Philip Morris, this mark is too similar to its own ‘Veev’ brand of pre-sealed e-liquid caps.

Veev is part of Philip Morris’  IQOS Mesh e-vapor platform, marketed by the company as a “completely new approach to e-vapor generation”.

The tobacco company has been active in trying to block rival marks which could potentially cause confusion but so far, in the UK at least, with little success.

Late last month, the IPO refused Philip Morris’ request to block the registration of UK company  All Vape’s trademark for ‘QIS’-branded e-cigarettes.

In that decision, the IPO found that Philip Morris had failed to provide any sales figures for its IQOS products in the UK, and could not prove the mark’s distinctiveness or enhanced reputation through use.

This time, the  IPO examiner accepted that the company’s ‘Veev’ marks were “inherently distinctive to a high degree”, as they were invented words with no particular meaning.

But, according to the examiner, there was still not enough similarity between ‘Veeik’ and ‘Veev’ for consumers to mistake one for the other.

“I can see no reason why the average consumer would conclude that they originate from the same or economically linked undertakings,” the examiner wrote, adding: “They are not natural variants or brand extensions of each other.”

Philip Morris was instructed to pay costs of £800 ($995) to the Chinese company.

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More on this story

27 March 2020   Philip Morris International has failed in its efforts to have a UK e-cigarette maker’s trademark cancelled, after the UK Intellectual Property Office said it had failed to prove the reputation of its ‘IQOS’ product.