November 2017. Telecoms company KPN has failed to halt the registration in the Benelux of the trademark PN. Following an opposition filed against PN by KPN, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property concluded there was insufficient similarity between the two.
Different overall impression
According to the BOIP, the characteristic ‘K’ in KPN ensures that both trademarks KPN en PN give a different overall impression and there is consequently no risk of the public confusing the two.
It’s hardly surprising KPN should lose the case, since instinct would tell you the KPN and PN trademarks aren’t similar. The real question is why on earth KPN decided to pick a fight in the first place.
KPN did however come up with a creative argument. The letters KPN stand for Koninklijke PTT Nederland. And if the company were to lose the predicate ‘Koninklijk’ (which means ‘Royal’), it would simply be known as PN!, KPN argued. The BIOP wasn’t buying it.
Incidentally, it’s interesting to note the registration of PN was applied for by KPP Design Ltd, one of the companies owned by the mysterious trademark hijacker Michael Gleissner, whom we’ve written about before.