A recent decision from the IPO in Singapore has shown once again that sometimes a mark is almost too well known for its own good. SELLOTAPE and HOOVER have both suffered from being ‘too well known’ and are the most well known examples of this unfortunate ‘blip’ in trade mark law.
Choice Fortune Holdings Limited applied to register SEIKI in Singapore for electronic goods. Seiko Holdings Corporation, with its prior registration of its famous SEIKO mark covering goods in the same class, filed an opposition against the application on the grounds that the SEIKI mark was confusingly similar to its own SEIKO registration and therefore a dilution of its goodwill.
Because the two marks were ‘similar’ and not ‘identical’, Seiko had to establish confusion or likelihood of association between the two marks. However, the Registrar held that the likelihood of confusion was minimal because due to the expensive nature of the goods sold under the marks, consumers would have made the necessary enquiries as to origin, specification etc before purchasing them. Accordingly, customers were clearly not confused that they were purchasing SEIKO products and similarly, given the fact that Seiko’s main reputation is in relation to luxury watches and not televisions (one of the goods sold under the SEIKI mark), customers were unlikely to associate the products.
The opposition failed and as is often the case, the similar (but not confusingly so) mark proceeds to registration. This is often the reason why so many blatant ‘look alikes’ are still on the supermarket shelves – no real likelihood of confusion. “Taking the micky?” – yes’ “confusion?” – no.