A law center has recently be causing problems for General Electric in Russia.

The Russian Chamber for Patent Disputes (CPD) has upheld the registration of a GE mark registered by ROSPATENT last May.

The mark is made up of a GE wording in a shield device, as well as the words “legal center” and made up word “Гудэксперт" in Russian (pos.trans: goodexpert).

General Electric argued that the subject GE law center mark was similar to the point of confusion to its own GE mark, which it uses regularly and has prior rights in Russia. 

The General Electric GE mark is registered in Russia over similar/identical services.

The CPD however had a different opinion, stating that the perception of the contested trademark overall is to see the combination of the letters "G" and "E" as an abbreviation of the made up word “Гудэксперт" in Russian (pos.trans: goodexpert). In addition, it was noted that the contested trademark is used by the registrant along with a commercial designation consisting of an identical visual element and “GoodExpert” English wording.

It was felt that the General Electric’s GE mark gave a totally different visual impression – with different graphic forms  - one a shield and monogram – another in a circular device with stylized design – as well as different colours.  The two marks also differed on a phonetic level  - different number of words, syllables and sounds and the combination of sounds – as well as different associations for each mark.

By this decision, the CPD has further indicated that even if trademarks contain identical/similar elements, they may still coexist provided that the overall impression the marks give is different.

It may be also noted that in trademark similarity disputes, the CPD takes into account the use of commercial designation by the relevant parties. In this case, the use of a commercial designation, which contains elements identical to the trademark was an argument in favor of the Russian company.

It will be interesting to see whether General Electric further tries to appeal the CPD decision in court.