September 2019. Multinational food company Royal Wessanen recently scored a resounding victory with a ruling by the European Trademark Office EUIPO.  EUIPO refused Spanish food company PLN Distribución’s application to register the logo Bonnatura for a wide range of foods because it was thought to be too similar to Wessanen’s Zonnatura trademark.

Deliberately or inadvertently

We’ll give PLN Distribución the benefit of the doubt and accept that they weren’t aware of the Zonnatura trademark. After all, while Zonnatura may be a well known trademark in the Netherlands, it presumably doesn’t enjoy the same widespread familiarity in southern Europe. Although that’s beside the point, of course. Wessanen quite simply owns an EU-wide registration to the word Zonnatura and anyone in Europe who comes too close to it – deliberately or inadvertently – is guilty of trademark infringement.

Trademark search recommended

PLN Distribución could of course have discovered that a similar trademark to its own had already been registered, simply by having a comprehensive trademark search carried out. By which we don’t mean one of those online checks you carry out on the internet, because they’ll only call up trademarks that are totally identical to Zonnatura. If you really want to do a search for non-identical yet strongly similar trademarks such as Bonnatura, you’ve got to dig a bit deeper and commission a proper search. Which costs money, of course, but will save you a lot of problems in the long run.

Bas Kist