Although Nokia and Kiona consist of five of the same letters, and both contain a ‘Ki’ syllable and end in an ‘A’, EUIPO sees no similarity. Yes, we understand that Kiona is an anagram of Nokia, the trademark office says. But that doesn’t mean that the trademarks are immediately similar. The number of letters in the alphabet is limited, so it is unavoidable that trademarks are sometimes made up of the same five letters. The general public is not at all counting letters in a word and is certainly not trying to solve anagrams, according to EUIPO.
Hmmm, to some extent, I can understand that consumers will not confuse Nokia and Kiona. But in relation to telecom products, Kiona at least brings to mind the still world-famous Nokia trademark. In my opinion, Kiona inevitably benefits from the great reputation of the Nokia trademark, and that’s a no-go in trademark law. However, EUIPO’s Opposition Division sees it differently. They apparently think that this kind of ‘shuffling’ of well-known brands is permissible.
Apple vs Eppla
Fortunately, more or less at the same time, there is also good news in the field of ‘mixed up’ trademarks. Exactly one year ago, the same EUIPO Opposition Division ruled that the Apple and Eppla trademarks are not similar. Apple could, therefore, not prohibit Eppla’s European registration. However, the tech giant appealed successfully.
Two months ago, the Board of Appeal overturned Apple’s early 2022 ruling. According to the Board of Appeal, the Opposition Division was wrong, and they stated that there is indeed similarity between Apple and Eppla, at least enough likeness that consumers will link Eppla and the world-famous Apple brand.
In this way, Eppla unfairly benefits from the appeal and advertising value of the Apple brand, according to the Board of Appeal. The Eppla trademark, therefore, does indeed infringe the Apple trademark and, on closer inspection, will therefore not be granted a European registration.
Appeal like Apple
There is still hope for Nokia. The Board of Appeal seems to have a different take on ‘famous-trademark-shuffling’ compared to the Opposition Division of EUIPO. So an appeal could be succesful.
This article was published at Adformatie on Februari 8th 2023