17 February 2020Rory O'Neill

UKIPO throws out Audemars Piguet TM opposition

Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet has fallen short in a trademark dispute with a Chinese company over its luxury ‘Royal Oak’ brand at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

In its decision, issued last week, February 12, the IPO found that Audemars Piguet, whose watches retail for more than £65,000 ($84,600), had not provided sufficient evidence to establish the reputation of its ‘Royal Oak’ brand in the UK.

The ruling means that the Swiss company’s opposition to a trademark application filed by Chinese firm Putian Ya Jiu Trading Company has failed.

Putian Ya Jiu Trading filed to register a mark for ‘Oakky’, stylised in block lettering, in 2018, covering jewellery items including watches in class 14.

Audemars Piguet opposed the application, citing its UK and EU trademarks for ‘Royal Oak’, also in class 14.

But according to the IPO hearing officer, the Swiss brand failed to provide any evidence of the ‘Royal Oak’ mark’s reputation in the UK.

“I have no evidence of turnover, market share intensity and/or geographical extent of use, nor the duration of that use or the size of the investment made by [Audemars Piguet] in promoting it,” the hearing officer wrote.

Audemars Piguet had provided print-outs of internet searches for “royal oak” and “watches”.

“The most I can conclude from the evidence is that some watches are sold under the name Royal Oak. The extent to which that is the case, I cannot conclude from the evidence before me,” the hearing officer added.

The IPO also concluded that, in any case, the level of similarity between the two marks was low and that there was not a likelihood of confusion between them.

The hearing officer said that, while there may be a level of conceptual similarity if the consumer identifies the ‘oak’ element of the Chinese company’s mark, consumers were unlikely to see ‘Oakky’ as a “natural brand extension” of ‘Royal Oak’.

Audemars Piguet was ordered to pay costs of £600 ($780) to Putian Ya Jiu Trading.

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