Starbucks has succeeded in its latest appeal in its opposition of Belgian entrepreneur Hasmik Nersesyan's application to register a figurative mark for her 'Coffee rocks' brand.
The EU General Court has annulled a EUIPO decision rejecting the objection filed by Starbucks. Previously, the EUIPO's Fourth Board of Appeal had determined that the marks were "dissimilar from a visual view point".
Starbucks' opposition was based on its figurative well known figurative circular marks which have the words Starbucks Coffee around the outside and a mermaid in the middle. Nersesyan's mark was a figurative circular mark with the words Coffee Rocks around the outside and a musical note in the middle. The General Court's judgment held that Nersesyan's mark had "three sets of visual similarities" to the Starbucks marks:
The use of black and white (to highlight the central element); The use of the same font as used in "STARBUCKS COFFEE" for the wording "COFFEE ROCKS" and the positioning of that wording; and The use of the common word 'coffee'.
The Court went on to state that the phonetic similarity of the ending of the words "Starbucks" and "Rocks" adds to the overall similarity.
The Court went so far as to explain that while there are differences between the signs (notably the mermaid used in the Starbucks mark vs. the note used in the Coffee Rocks mark), they are not sufficiently different so as to conclude (as the earlier judgment had) that the marks were "dissimilar from a visual point of view".
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