Recently, the EUIPO Opposition Division ruled that there is no likelihood of confusion between the verbal sign “RANGE ROVER“ and a verbal sign “Trendrange“. The opponent also based its arguments on national registration of a sign “Range” in various European Union countries.
The United Kingdom company Jaguar Land Rover Limited (the opponent) filed an opposition against the Chinese company Ganzhou Kaiou Electronic Commerce Co. Ltd. (the applicant) verbal trademark “Trendrange“ represented by Metida Law Firm and seeking protection for the goods in Classes 9. The opponent relied on the earlier verbal mark “RANGE ROVER“ and “Range” and on the existence of a likelihood of confusion (Article 8 (1) (b) EUTMR).
Visually and aurally, the signs coincide in the string of letters “RANGE“ (or their sound), which is the first verbal element in the earlier mark and the last five letters in the contested mark. However, they differ in the initial verbal element of the earlier mark “ROVER“ (or its sound) placed at its end and in the string the letters “Trend-“ (or their sound) in the contested mark placed at its beginning.
Therefore, taking into account that the common element “Range“ is placed at the end of the contested mark and that they will only be identified as a verbal element by the English speaking part of the public, the signs are similar to at most an average degree.
Conceptually, taking into account, the previous assertions concerning the semantic content conveyed by the marks, the contested mark and the earlier mark are not similar because, for the English-speaking public, the coinciding element “RANGE” will be perceived in the earlier mark as part of a semantic unit with a specific meaning that is not perceived in the contested mark, while for the non-English-speaking public, the contested mark does not have any meaning.
Even though the signs coincide in the element “RANGE“ this will only be perceived as a separate verbal element by part of the public, namely the English-speaking part of the public, for whom the conceptual differences due to the semantic unit formed by the earlier mark are so clear as to compensate the coincidence in one term, placed in different positions in both marks. The rest of the public will not identify the coinciding letters “RANGE“ as forming a separate term in the contested sign, so the differences between them are even more evident.
The earlier mark has no meaning for any of the goods in question from the public’s perspective in the relevant territory. Therefore, the distinctiveness of the earlier mark must be seen as normal.
In addition, the signs differ in their beginnings, which is where consumers place most of their attention.
Considering all the above, even assuming that the goods are identical, there is no likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.
The opponent has also based its opposition on the following earlier trademarks: French trademark registration No 4 269 454, “RANGE“ (word mark); French trademark registration No 4 112 648, “RANGE“ (word mark); Greek trademark registration No N 237 411, “RANGE“ (word mark); Greek trademark registration No N 231 333, “RANGE“; Italian trademark registration No 2 016 000 046 206, “RANGE“ (word mark); Italian trademark registration No 1 650 637, “RANGE“; Spanish trademark registration No 3 611 777, “RANGE“ (word mark) and Spanish trademark registration No 3 523 589, “RANGE“ (word mark).
The earlier marks consist of the verbal element “RANGE” which is meant for part of the relevant public, such as the French-speaking public, as mentioned above. However, for the remaining public, this word will not have any meaning. Irrespective of whether the element “range“ is perceived as meaningful or not, it is distinctive in relation to the goods found to be identical.
Also, and contrary to the opponent’s assertions, the contested mark will not be split into the verbal elements “Trend“ and “Range“ by the relevant public as the verbal element “Trend“ will not be perceived as having any meaning.
Visually and aurally, the signs coincide in the string of letters “RANGE“ (or their sound), which is the sole verbal element in the earlier marks and the last five letters of the contested sign. However, they differ in the string of letters “Trend-“ (or their sound) in the contested mark placed at its beginning.
It is especially important to note in this case that consumers generally tend to focus on the beginning of a sign when they encounter a trademark. This is because the public reads from left to right, which makes the part placed at the left of the sign (the initial part) the one that first catches the attention of the reader. In this case, the beginnings of the signs are clearly different, and the element “range“ will not be identified in the contested sign. Therefore, the signs are similar to a low degree.
Conceptually, taking into account the previous assertions concerning the semantic content conveyed by the marks, as the contested mark will be perceived as a meaningless word, the signs are not conceptually similar.
In the present case, the goods at issue have been assumed to be identical. They are directed at the public at large as well as at business customers with specific knowledge or expertise. The signs are visually and aurally, similar to a low degree and conceptually not similar. The earlier mark is distinctive to a normal degree.
Considering all the above, even assuming that the goods are identical, there is no likelihood of confusion on the part of the public. The EUIPO Opposition Division rejected the opposition due to the lack of similarity between the comparable signs; consequently, it was concluded that when signs are visually and aurally similar to a low degree and conceptually not similar.