15 August 2019TrademarksSaman Javed

UKIPO sides with Uber in ‘ChefUber’ TM opposition

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has sided with Uber after the ride-hailing app opposed a trademark that it said would likely be confused with its own.

In a decision issued Monday, August 12, the IPO said an individual, Tim Mackew, could not register the mark ‘ChefUber’

Mackew had sought to register the mark in class 35 for several recruitment services in the catering trade, but this was opposed by Uber which said a number of its earlier trademarks were also registered in the same class.

Although Uber based its opposition on two trademarks for the word ‘Uber’ it said there was a point of conceptual similarity between ‘ChefUber’ and its service ‘UberEats’ because of the food-based connotations they possess.

Mackew had argued that unlike UberEats, ChefUber is a matching service for freelance chefs and hospitality establishments.

But, the IPO found that Uber and ChefUber both involve the recruitment and placement of personnel and that therefore, there is a similarity of purpose.

Additionally, while Mackew had argued that the addition of the word element ‘Chef’ in his applied-for mark makes it distinctive from Uber’s earlier trademarks, the IPO said that neither word in ‘ChefUber’ stands out more than the other.

The IPO said that from a visual and aural perspective, the commonality of Uber in both the earlier and applied-for mark creates a degree of similarity.

While the IPO noted that an average consumer would notice the main difference between ‘ChefUber’ and ‘Uber’, it said the consumer may still be indirectly confused.

It agreed with Uber that ‘Chef’ is a descriptive word and combining it with ‘Uber’ would not prevent it from being confused, and would still lead to an assumption of economic connection between Uber and ChefUber.

It also found that ‘ChefUber’ takes advantage of the reputation of Uber’s earlier trademarks, because the average consumer would assume that the services offered by ChefUber are meant to operate and work in the same way as those offered by Uber.

The IPO concluded that Uber’s opposition was successful and the registration of ‘CefUber’ was denied.

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