Altra sentenza-scuola intorno al giudizio di confondibilità tra due marchi , il primo complesso (denominativo-figurativo) e il secondo solo denominativo.
Quello sub iudice:
Quello anteriore fatto valere dall’opponente:
– EU word mark DECATHLON
Il Tribunale non ravvisa la confondibilità, confermando il giudizio del Board of Appeal dell’EUIPO.
La parte più interessante è la comparazione tra segni, §§ 28-58, ove i consueti tre profili: visual [prevalgono gli elementi di differenza, § 46], phonetic [simile, § 48] and conceptual comparison [simili per la parte di pubblico che comprende il significato, anche se il marchio successivo è debole, § 56, pur se la parte figurativa riduce la somigliazna, § 58 e § 78].
Interessante è la individuazione del pubblico rilevante: dati i prodotti (abbigliamento sportivo), <<it is appropriate to take into account the public with the lowest level of attention, namely the general public, whose level of attention is normal.>>, § 24.
Però il marchio Decathlon è debole e la nota azienda francese cerca di far riconoscere che ha però acquisito distintività sufficiente (enhanced distinctive character): domanda però rigettata (come già presso EUIPO) perchè le prove riguardavano i servizi di distribuzione commerciale, non i prodotti, § 72, e per latre ragioni
Il Board di appello EUIPO aveva ritenuto che, < in the light of the ‘low’ degree of visual similarity between the signs at issue and of the absence of objective and solid evidence showing an enhanced distinctive character of the earlier mark for the goods upon which the opposition was based, there was, in spite of the identity of the goods at issue, no likelihood of confusion between the marks at issue for the relevant public throughout the European Union that perceived the words ‘decathlon’ and ‘athlon’ as having as similar meaning. According to the Board of Appeal, that applies even more so with respect to the relevant public that does not understand those words or only understands the meaning of one of them>> § 79.
Il Tribunale :
<< Next, it is appropriate to refer to the principle that a global assessment of the likelihood of confusion implies some interdependence between the factors taken into account and, in particular, between the similarity of the trade marks and that of the goods or services covered. Accordingly, a low degree of similarity between those goods or services may be offset by a high degree of similarity between the marks, and vice versa (…) .
Furthermore, in the global assessment of the likelihood of confusion, the visual, aural or conceptual aspects of the opposing signs do not always have the same weight and the extent of the similarity or difference between those signs may depend on their inherent qualities (see judgment of 22 February 2018, International Gaming Projects v EUIPO – Zitro IP (TRIPLE TURBO), T‑210/17, not published, EU:T:2018:91, paragraph 72 and the case-law cited).>>, §§ 87-88.
L’aspetto visuale è predominante nel caso specifico per due ragioni
<<In the first place, it is apparent from the case-law that, where the elements of similarity between two signs are the result of the fact that they have a weakly distinctive component in common, the impact of those elements of similarity on the global assessment of the likelihood of confusion is itself low (see judgment of 22 February 2018, TRIPLE TURBO, T‑210/17, not published, EU:T:2018:91, paragraph 73 and the case-law cited).
In the present case, it was found that the word element ‘athlon’, which was common to the signs at issue, had a weak distinctive character for part of the public and would not therefore be perceived as an indication of commercial origin (see paragraphs 53 to 57 above).
Consequently, the visual differences noted above, which arise primarily from the stylisation of the common word element and of the figurative element in the mark applied for, will dominate in the overall impression on the relevant public created by the signs at issue. Those differences will thus counteract the phonetic similarity and, for part of the public, the conceptual similarity resulting from the common word element ‘athlon’ and the concept to which it refers.
In the second place, the marketing circumstances are a relevant factor in the application of Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001 and are to be taken into account at the stage of the global assessment of the likelihood of confusion and not at that of the assessment of the similarity of the signs at issue (judgment of 4 March 2020, EUIPO v Equivalenza Manufactory, C‑328/18 P, EU:C:2020:156, paragraph 70).
In the present case, the goods at issue, namely athletic clothes and hats, are in a sector in which visual perception of the marks will generally take place prior to purchase. Consequently, the visual aspect is of greater importance in the global assessment of the likelihood of confusion>>, §§ 90-94
Di conseguenza ,<< in the light in particular of the weak distinctive character of the element ‘athlon’, of the dominance of the weak, or even very weak, visual similarity and of the circumstances under which the goods in question are marketed, it follows from all the foregoing that there is no likelihood of confusion.>>, § 95