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Diesel wins at EU General Court

Diesel registered its mark with EUIPO on February 19, 1999 while Splinter megacentros del Deporte filed theirs in 2012.

Diesel argued the 2012 trademark application, but both the Opposition Division of the EUIPO and the Second Appeals Chamber spoke in favor of Sprinter. The main finding was that while the Diesel brand clearly displayed a letter ‘D’, Sprinter’s brand was a “basic geometric shape” given that there were “clear visual differences” between the brands that surpassed the similarities, it goes against a likelihood of confusion.

Specifically, the court agreed with Brandstock’s interpretation, confirming that the brand of Sprinters had to be seen as a stylized ‘D’.

The judges in fact clarified that the opposite brand showed all the main characteristics of a “D”. After this addressing the preliminary but fundamental issue, the court stated that it was persuaded that there is a likelihood of confusion between the signs in question with regard to the goods in question, as the main features of a “D” and they were reproduced in a similar way by the younger sign.

The court agreed with Brandstock’s submission that the forms of the brands were similar, considering that the differences between them were “very slight stylistic differences, which are of lesser importance compared to the similarities.

The court’s decision, which has not yet been appealed by Sprinter, will bring comfort to trademark owners of trademarks based on letters. They can now be confident that imitators will not be able to register marks that are confusingly similar merely by having small differences compared to the prior existing marks. Consumers will feel a sense of safety as well, since they will be less likely to confuse such marks and inadvertently purchase the wrong product.

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