International Space University - (ISU) (Association de droit local) [2018] ATMO 198

This matter concerned an application by the "International Space University" - (ISU) (Association de droit local) to register the trade mark ISU INTERNATIONAL SPACE UNIVERSITY in Australia in connection with printed materials, educational services, and scientific services.

During initial examination, the trade mark was objected to by the Australian Trade Marks Office on the basis that the trade mark indicated that the goods and services covered thereunder related to the study of space and were carried out in an international university.

The applicant requested a hearing on the objection and at the hearing, argued that whilst the individual elements of its trade mark may have descriptive meaning, the overall trade mark did not.

The Hearing Officer noted the arguments, but was not persuaded to agree. Instead, the Hearing Officer noted his view that the ‘ISU’ element of the overall trade mark would be readily identified as ‘International Space University’ (citing ANU and UNSW as examples) and that the ordinary signification of ‘International Space University’ was directly descriptive.

Finally, the applicant sought to rely on evidence of use to overcome the objection, but that evidence amounted to some 30-45 students in Australia over a five year period, which the Hearing Officer considered to be ‘very limited use’ of the trade mark in Australia.

The application is to be refused registration.