February 2018. Sports equipment-maker Slazenger has successfully blocked the registration of a trademark by Arctic Cat, a well-known manufacturer of snow-scooters, because Arctic Cat’s cat logo looks too much like Slazenger’s. On 30 January, the European General Court refused to allow it to register the trademark in Europe for clothing.

Opposite direction

Arctic Cat argued that its mark depicts a “fantasy animal” jumping rather than a black panther “tilting”, as is the case with Slazenger’s mark. The two beasts were also pointing in opposite directions.

‘Cat’ silhouette lingers in the mind

But the Court felt that consumers wouldn’t sufficiently take these differences on board. The differences, such as the opposite directions the cats face, are not details that consumers notice or remember. Both marks depicted black silhouettes of members of the cat family represented in profile, conveying an impression of movement, according to the court. Conclusion: a trademark infringement and hence no trademark registration for the arctic cat.

OK for scooters

Fortunately, Arctic Cat has been told it can continue to use the logo as a trademark for its snow-scooters. Slazenger had initially opposed that too, but withdrew this objection during the proceedings.

Bas Kist