EUIPO rules there is no likelihood of confusion between the trademarks “Balta” and “Balcia”
Earlier this year, a decision of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (hereinafter “EUIPO”) came into force, holding there is no likelihood of any confusion between the trademarks “Balta” and “Balcia”, thus rejecting AAS “Balta” (hereinafter “Balta”) opposition against the registration of trademark “Balcia” in the European Union (hereinafter “EU”).
The dispute in question was initiated at the EUIPO, with Balta opposing the registration of word and graphical trademarks “Balcia”. Balta claimed the trademark “Balcia” as well as goods and services covered by the trademark are similar to its earlier trademarks “BALTA”, registered in Latvia and EU. Balta further claimed its trademark has a reputation in the EU and thus favours from broader protection under the Regulation on the European Union trade mark.
The EUIPO ruled, although the covered services and the targeted public are identical for both marks, the similarity of the trademarks visually and aurally is low. The EUIPO underlined, conceptually, the signs are not similar.
Regarding visual and aural similarity, the EUIPO held since both trademarks cover specialised services that may have important financial consequences for their users, relevant consumers’ level of attention will be higher than average and thus difference of the signs will likely not go overlooked by the consumers.
Regarding the conceptual differences between both signs, the EUIPO stated that for part of the public sign “Balta” would be perceived as misspelling the word “Balts” which refers to the colour “white” in Latvian, while several other misspelled versions of word “Balta” has a meaning in Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, and other EU countries. Meanwhile, the sign “Balcia” has no meaning in the EU. In the perception of the public, since one sign will not be associated with a particular meaning, the signs are not conceptually similar.
The EUIPO recognized the earlier EU trademark “BALTA”, enjoys a certain degree of reputation, but considering relevant factors regarding similarity of signs, especially conceptual differences, it is unlikely the relevant public would make a ‘mental connection’ between the signs.
In conclusion, the EUIPO ruled Balta had failed to demonstrate how the registration and use of the trademark “Balcia” can be detrimental to the repute, detrimental to the distinctive character or taking unfair advantage of the earlier Balta trademarks and rejected the opposition.
This case once again underlines the importance for companies to carefully create a trademark, by not only paying attention to the visual and phonetical representation of the trademark, but also the conceptual meaning of the mark and mental associations it creates. The conceptual meaning of the trademark should be also considered when making a trademark search.
For more information on trademark registration, see Kalīne’s article: 7 steps to successful trademark registration.