Sprake van verwarringsgevaar tussen RUBY FIRES en RUBY
EUIPO Board of Appeal 21 december 2017, IEF 17479; IEFbe 2474; Case R 283/2017-4 (Ruby Decor tegen Essege) Merkenrecht. Beroep. Ruby Decor heeft in 2008 een merkinschrijving voor het woordmerk RUBY FIRES bij het EUIPO gedaan. Essege, houder van het Benelux woordmerk RUBY, doet in 2014 een nietigheidsverzoek. Het nietigheidsverzoek wordt gegrond verklaard. Ruby Decor stelt dat het bewijs van het gebruik van het merk ontoereikend is, dat de goederen niet soortgelijk zijn en dat de tekens niet overeenkomen. Het beroep wordt verwopen. Het bewijs van het gebruik is wel toereikend, de goederen zijn soortgelijk op een gemiddelde schaal en de tekens komen conceptueel overeen. Globaal is er sprake van verwarringsgevaar. Het beroep wordt verworpen.
43. The Board therefore concurs with the Cancellation Division that the submitted documents considered as a whole, provide sufficient and conclusive evidence about the time, place, extent and nature of the use of the earlier Benelux mark during the relevant periods in the relevant territory, for the goods for which it is registered, namely: Class 11 – heating apparatus.
54. Finally, the contested goods in Class 19 are specifically used to build ‘fireplaces’ or ‘heating apparatus’ in general or can be used to build them. They are manufactured, bought and used in relation to the latter. The targeted consumers, manufacturers and distribution channels of are the same as those of ‘heating apparatus’ in Class 11. Therefore, the IR holder’s arguments that the ‘building materials’ concerned are dissimilar cannot be followed. The contested goods in Class 19 are similar to an average degree to the earlier goods in Class 11.
63. Conceptually, part of the public will perceive the term ‘RUBY’ as a dark red jewel or something that is dark red in colour, or as a female name (Collins English Dictionary), another part of the public may not associate the term with any meaning or concept. The possible conceptual difference created by the descriptive term ‘FIRES’ cannot be given any significant weight and cannot play a decisive differentiating role from a conceptual perspective (16/12/2015, T-491/13, Trident Pure, EU:T:2015:979, § 93 and 108). Therefore, the conceptual comparison is either identical or it remains neutral.
66. A likelihood of confusion on the part of the public must be assessed globally. That global assessment implies some interdependence between the factors taken into account and in particular similarity between the marks and between the goods or services covered. Accordingly, a lesser degree of similarity between these goods or services may be offset by a greater degree of similarity between the marks, and vice versa (29/09/1998, C-39/97, Canon, EU:C:1998:442, § 17; 22/06/1999, C-342/97, Lloyd Schuhfabrik, EU:C:1999:323, § 19). The more distinctive the earlier mark, the greater the risk of confusion, and marks with a highly distinctive character, either per se or because of the reputation they possess on the market, enjoy broader protection than marks with a less distinctive character (29/09/1998, C-39/97, Canon, EU:C:1998:442, § 18).
67. The goods at issue target both the general public and professionals and their level of attention will vary from average to high. The relevant territory is the Benelux.
68. In view of the partial identity and partial similarity of the conflicting goods, and the high visual and aural similarity of the signs (and the conceptual identity for part of the relevant public), a likelihood of confusion in the meaning of Article 8(1)(b) EUTMR exists between the earlier mark and the contested IR for all the contested goods in Classes 6, 11 and 19, even for the professional public in the Benelux countries, since due to the fact that the signs only differ in the descriptive element ‘FIRES’, the public could be lead to believe that the goods in question come from the same undertaking or economically-linked undertakings.