EUIPO thinks the trademarks APPLE and EPPLA are hardly similar. Even if both brands consist of the same five letters, three of which are identically placed, it doesn’t change that. According to EUIPO, it’s precisely the switching of the initial and the final letter that makes a significant difference, visually and in sound.
Association with apple
But EUIPO derives the main reason for rejecting the opposition from the meaning of the APPLE trademark. According to EUIPO, consumers immediately associate it with the image of an apple, while the word EPPLA has no meaning whatsoever. According to EUIPO, this conceptual difference between APPLE and EPPLA outweighs the (slight) visual and sound similarity between the brands. According to the trademark office, despite APPLE’s great fame and reputation, there is no likelihood of confusion or association and, therefore, no infringement. Funny to see how the meaning of your brand can work against you in such a case.
Surprisingly this single vowel change is enough to dismiss the trademark infringement of the world-renowned APPLE brand. EPPLA, as a brand for tablets? I don’t fully agree. It may not be confusing but it in my opinion, bearing in mind the similarity of the products, the public will establish a link with APPLE. For a big brand like APPLE that should be enough for an infringement.
Shop known brands
APPLE is not the first brand to fall flat on its face with a ‘brand shuffle’. For example, NOKIA couldn’t stop AIKON, and G-STAR had to tolerate the GRSTA brand. So mixing well-known brands it’s an excellent recipe for a successful copy?
This article was previously published on Adformatie (Dutch).