Trib. UE 8 marzo 2023, T-759/21, Nestlè c. EUIPO- The a2 Milk Company Ltd, sull’oggetto.
ecco i marchi:
Il rigetto amminsitrativo è confermnato dal Trib. UE:
<<It should be recalled that the Board of Appeal found, in paragraph 47 of the contested decision, that the earlier international registration had an average degree of inherent distinctiveness. In addition, having concluded that the conceptual comparison of the signs at issue was neutral, it took into account, in the context of the examination of the likelihood of confusion, the identity or high degree of similarity of the goods at issue, the low degree of visual similarity and the high degree of phonetic similarity between those signs in order to reach the conclusion that there was a likelihood of confusion, in the present case, for the Bulgarian-, Hungarian- or Latvian-speaking public at large with a level of attention which could vary from average to high.
65 The Board of Appeal added, in paragraph 48 of the contested decision, that even though the visual aspect was likely to play a role in the selection of the goods concerned, it was highly conceivable that, confronted with the international registration at issue, consumers would perceive it as a variation of the earlier international registration, configured in a different way according to the type of goods covered. That would in fact lead them to believe that the identical or highly similar goods originate from the intervener or, as the case may be, from an undertaking economically linked to the intervener.
66 First, it must be found that the applicant is wrong to maintain that the Board of Appeal failed sufficiently to take into account the visual differences between the signs at issue. As stated in paragraph 55 above, the Board of Appeal did indeed note, in the context of its global analysis of the likelihood of confusion, that there was a low degree of visual similarity between those signs. That does not mean, however, that it disregarded the case-law on short signs. Although it is true that, in short signs, small differences may frequently lead to a different overall impression, that is not the case here, since a significant part of the relevant public readily recognises the element common to the signs at issue, which is their dominant element.
67 In the light of those considerations, it is necessary, secondly, to take into account the fact that the signs at issue are phonetically similar to a high degree, if not identical, which is also the case for the goods at issue. Those findings cannot be ignored in the global analysis of the likelihood of confusion, contrary to what the applicant appears to maintain, but also play an important role in accordance with the principle of interdependence as referred to in paragraph 61 above. It should be noted, in that regard, that, even though the goods at issue are sold on a self-service basis and the visual aspect is of some importance, that does not prevent the phonetic similarity between the signs from becoming apparent when the goods are sold orally or mentioned in radio advertisements, or in oral conversations which are likely to give rise to an imperfect recollection of the sign.
68 Similarly, having regard to the identity conferred by the element common to the signs at issue, it is conceivable, as the Board of Appeal stated, that consumers, confronted with the international registration at issue, will perceive it as a variation of the earlier international registration, configured in a different way according to the type of goods covered, which will lead them to believe that the identical or highly similar goods originate from the intervener or, as the case may be, from an undertaking economically linked to the intervener.
69 It is appropriate in that regard to reject the applicant’s argument that, in order to arrive at that finding, the Board of Appeal was wrong to refer to paragraph 49 of the judgment of 23 October 2002, Oberhauser v OHIM – Petit Liberto (Fifties) (T‑104/01, EU:T:2002:262), given that it applied to customs in the clothing sector and did not concern short signs the stylisation of which would be capable of indicating the commercial origin of a product, but signs consisting of the words ‘fifties’ and ‘miss fifties’, the addition of ‘miss’ being capable of being understood as a clothing line for women.
70 It should be noted, in that regard, that the Board of Appeal merely stated that there was a likelihood of confusion irrespective of the particular importance of the visual aspect, given that, visually, the Bulgarian-, Hungarian- or Latvian-speaking public at large will always perceive the same alphanumeric combination in the signs at issue, albeit stylised differently. Furthermore, contrary to what the applicant appears to state, it is conceivable that consumers in sectors other than the clothing sector, including the food and dietetic supplements sector, may believe that identical or highly similar goods originate from the same undertaking or from economically linked undertakings when faced with signs containing identical verbal or numerical elements, even if those signs are short.
71 Accordingly, it should be concluded that, in the light of the fact that the signs at issue are visually similar to a low degree and phonetically highly similar or even identical, that a conceptual comparison is not possible, that the goods at issue are identical or highly similar and that the level of attention of the Bulgarian-, Hungarian- or Latvian-speaking public at large may vary from average to high, the Board of Appeal was correct to find that there was a likelihood of confusion within the meaning of Article 8(1)(b) of Regulation 2017/1001>>.