Uitspraak ingezonden door Michiel Odink en Lotte Rutgers, Leeway Advocaten.
Oppositie apparkB afgewezen door visuele en conceptuele verschillen ParkBee
EUIPO Opposition Division 26 november 2018, IEF 18123; IEFbe 2796; (Barcelona de Serveis Municipals tegen allGreen) Merkenrecht. Oppositie ingesteld tegen waren en diensten van de klassen 9 en 39, internationale inschrijving nr. 1 293 504, betreffende het beeldmerk Parkbee. Het onderscheidend vermogen van apparkB is lager dan gemiddeld voor goederen en diensten gerelateerd aan parkeren of dat kan worden gebruikt door een mobiele applicatie, omdat het sterk verwijst naar concepten als "parkeren" en "een app". Voor ParkBee geldt wat betreft "Park" hetzelfde. "Bee" is nietszeggend en heeft daarmee wel onderscheidend vermogen. Visueel verschillen de eerste en laatste letters, en verschilt de weergave van de letters. Auditief zijn de merken vergelijkbaar in hoge mate. Conceptueel lijken de tekens weinig op elkaar, doordat op het teken van apparkB een smartphone is weergegeven. Hoewel de tekens fonetisch sterk vergelijkbaar zijn, zal deze auditieve gelijkenis worden gecompenseerd door de genoemde visuele en conceptuele verschillen, in het bijzonder rekening houdend met het feit dat consumenten een hogere mate van aandacht zullen besteden met betrekking tot sommige van de goederen en diensten. Bovendien ligt voor ten minste een deel van de waren en diensten de grootste samenloop in het zwakke element, 'park', dat voor deze goederen en diensten niet kan leiden tot een verwarringsgevaar wanneer beide tekens andere, meer onderscheidende elementen bevatten. Oppositie in zijn geheel afgewezen.
The relevant territory is Spain. (...) The word ‘appark’ of the verbal element is most likely to be perceived as a play on words, a combination of the word ‘app’ (understood by the Spanish public as ‘application’) and ‘aparcar’ (which means ‘to park’ in Spanish). Since this word as a whole is a rather playful and original combination, it does not lack distinctiveness. However, it strongly alludes to the concepts of ‘parking’ and ‘an app’, so its distinctiveness has to be considered lower than average for the goods and services related to parking or that can be used/arranged by a mobile application, for example software in Class 9 and transport or travel organization in Class 39.
The first part of the sign, the word ‘Park’, will be perceived as alluding to the word ‘Parking’, which is commonly used in Spanish as referring to ‘an area where cars or other vehicles may be left temporarily’. Consequently, this word will be allusive of the characteristics of the relevant goods and services that are connected to parking (e.g. computer software, transport or travel arrangement services), in which case it will be weak; it will have a normal degree of distinctiveness for the rest of the relevant goods and services. The second part of the sign, the word ‘Bee’, will be meaningless for the relevant public, and accordingly is distinctive. The contested sign has no element that could be considered more dominant than any other elements.
The signs differ in the first letters of the earlier mark, ‘ap*****’, and in the second part of the contested sign, ‘*****ee’; the fact that these differing letters are placed at the beginning of one sign and at the end of the other results in the marks having very different beginnings and endings, which are the parts that attract the most attention. Moreover, the marks also differ in the display of the letters in both signs, and in the graphical elements of the earlier mark, which have no counterparts in the contested sign. Since the signs coincide in a sequence of letters that due to its different depictions and positions will convey different impressions to the relevant public, and due to the additional colours and figurative elements of the earlier mark, which do not have any counterparts in the contested sign, the signs are visually similar to only a low degree.
Despite the different structures of the marks, as explained above, and the lower than average degree of distinctiveness of the coinciding sequence ‘park’ for some of the goods and services, the aural differences are very limited, mostly on account of the identical pronunciation of the single letter ‘B’ and the ending, ‘Bee’, of the contested mark. Therefore, the signs are aurally similar to a high degree.
Both marks allude to the concept of ‘parking’, which is weak for some of the goods and services. However, the earlier sign also evokes the concept of an application and the depiction of a smartphone conveys a concept as well. Therefore, the signs are conceptually similar to a low degree. As the signs have been found similar in at least.
As explained above, the coinciding sequence of letters in the marks is not obvious, in particular from the visual perspective, as it is placed in different positions in the marks and therefore the marks have different beginnings (and visually also different endings). Moreover, the structures of the marks will be perceived as very different. Whereas the earlier mark is a combination of a play on words, ‘appark’, and a single letter, ‘B’, together with some figurative elements, the contested mark is formed by the juxtaposition of an abbreviation for the word ‘parking’ and a meaningless foreign word, ‘Bee’. These different structures and perceptions of the marks play a decisive role in the assessment of their visual and conceptual similarities. Although the marks are aurally highly similar, this aural similarity will be offset by the abovementioned visual and conceptual differences, in particular taking into account that consumers will pay a higher degree of attention in relation to some of the goods and services. Moreover, for at least some of the goods and services the largest coincidence lies in a weak element, ‘park’, which, for these goods and services, cannot lead to a likelihood of confusion when both signs contain other, more distinctive elements. Considering all the above, the Opposition Division considers that the differences between the marks are sufficient to exclude any likelihood of confusion between them on the part of the public, even though the goods and services are identical. Therefore, the opposition must be rejected.