Restaurant chain Wagamama has been successful in stopping the registration of a rival trademark after the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) ruled against the application from Cable Logic Europe.
Cable Logic Europe had applied to register the trademark ‘Wakayama’ for trademarks related to prepared meals, instant meals and other food products featuring noodles made of rice and wheat.
However, the trademark registration was refused by the IPO on the basis that the product was too similar to the Japanese inspired restaurant chain’s trademark.
In their case against the registration, Wagamama claimed that the trademark in question was visually similar to their own and sounded almost identical. They argued that the products offered were too similar to Wagamamas, which would probably cause confusion among consumers who would mistake the products for being Wagamamas.
The Japanese style chain also highlighted the unfair advantage that Wakayama would gain from the far-reaching reputation of the popular restaurant chain and would benefit from the marketing of the Wagamama brand. This could then potentially alter the economic behaviour of consumers if they chose Wakayama’s goods instead of Wagamama’s services.
Wagamama also claimed that granting a trademark to Wakayama may damage Wagamama’s reputation if Wakayama received any form of negative publicity.
Cable logic filed a statement denying all grounds of opposition from Wagamama and claimed that ‘if pronounced clearly by a reasonable person, Wakayama does not sound the same as Wagamama’.
In her decision, Heather Harrison representing the IPO said: “The two marks are aurally alike to a high degree. Specifically, the first and last syllables which are identical, while the second and third syllables differ in the consonant sound (GA; KA) but share the same vowel sound.”
The IPO also ruled that there would be a likelihood of confusion for consumers as there is a similarity of the goods offered by both parties.
It said the average consumer rarely has the opportunity to make direct comparisons between trademarks and must instead rely on the imperfect picture of them he has retained in his mind.
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