The Intellectual Property Court rendered the 103-Hang-Shang-Su-115 Administrative Decision of February 13, 2015 (hereinafter, the "Decision"), in which it was expounded that the similarity of trademarks should be determined by observing their overall design and that they should be deemed highly similar trademarks if differentiation is difficult due to minute differences to an extent likely to lead to the misbelief that they represent the same sources.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff applied for the registration of the "CAMEL and DEVICE" trademark. An intervenor subsequently applied for its invalidation. As a result of the Defendant's examination, a disposition was rendered to cancel the registration. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff brought this action after his administrative appeal was rejected.
According to the interpretation in this Decision, in case of a trademark identical or similar to another person's registered trademark or a trademark for which application is filed earlier for the same or similar classes of goods to an extent likely to cause confusion among relevant consumers, their design should be observed in their entirety. However, if differentiation is difficult due to minute differences to an extent likely to lead to the misbelief that they represent the same sources, they should be deemed highly similar trademarks.
According to the Decision, the drawing of the trademark at issue and that of the trademark which serves as the basis of invalidation both feature a design whose composition consists of the drawing of a camel facing left in combination with a foreign language "CAMEL" with an overall appearance that creates very similar visual impressions to viewers. It is indeed difficult for consumers to tell that the trademark at issue and the trademark serving as the basis of invalidation represent different sources based on the minute differences between the one-humped and or two-humped camel by exercising general caution at the time of purchase. In addition, the goods designated for used for the trademark at issue and the trademark serving as the basis for invalidation are both for apparel and accessories for human wearing, warmth preservation and aesthetic appeal, and apparel goods and shoes are often used to accommodate each other and thus have complementary functions. In addition, the producers and distribution premises over overlap or interconnected. Therefore, they should be highly similar goods. In comparison with the trademark at issue, the trademark serving as the basis of invalidation is a trademark more familiar to relevant consumers and should be provided with more protection. It was further determined that the original disposition which cancels the trademark at issue was lawful, and the Plaintiff's complaint was rejected.