The German Patent Court has rejected a private individual’s application to register a trade mark for “British Hairways” following opposition from airline giant British Airways. The new mark, somewhat unsurprisingly, was applied for in relation to hair salon services, a service not currently offered by British Airways and consequently not covered by their EU trade marks. British Airways opposed the application in the first instance at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, however this was rejected, so an appeal to the German Patent Court followed. On appeal, the opposition was upheld and the “British Hairways” trade mark was cancelled. The Court held that though there was little likelihood of confusion between the marks given the differing services on offer, the new mark takes unfair advantage of the distinctiveness and goodwill attached to British Airways’ existing mark. As a result, it was accepted that this similarity would likely cause confusion in the minds of the relevant public and lead consumers to establish a link between the two where no such link exists.
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