Czech consumers may be notoriously known as the biggest beer drinkers (132 litres per capita a year); but not everyone has heard that the Czechs are also known as the largest consumers of processed cheese in the world (2.25 kg per capita a year). No wonder that one of the most escalated trade mark disputes in the Czech Republic concerned APETITO and subsequently SMETANINTO, both for processed cheeses.
As background to the whole story, the history of APETITO dates back to 1973, when a national company Lacrum Brno started to produce its melted cheese in two manufacturing plants, Želetava and Hodonín. After privatization, each of the manufacturing plants had a different owner. This was the beginning of a terrible long dispute. The company TPK, daughter of Bongrain Europe, obtained the plant in Hodonín and registered APETITO as the trade mark in 1993. The company BEL Sýry Cesko obtained the plant in Želetava and registered a trade mark APETITTO, with double "t"s.
This was, simply said, the beginning of the battle - in 2000 TPK attacked the competitor's trade mark and APETITTO with the double "t" was, unsurprisingly, declared invalid. BEL Sýry Cesko was therefore forced to come up with a new trade mark for its processed cheese and registered a new trademark "SMETANITO". TPK enforced the invalidation of the Smetanito trade mark since the word "smetana"("cream" in English) represents the original ingredient from which the processed cheese is made, and is therefore descriptive.
Moreover, TPK argued with alleged identity or similarity of SMETANITO with an earlier trade mark APETITO due to the similar ending of both words "-ITO". The Municipal Court in Prague decided in March 2013 to reject all TPK’s arguments and dismissed its legal action. The ending "-ITO" was not found significant and original enough to be connected exclusively with APETITO products.
Additionally, the Municipal Court in Prague ruled that "It cannot be expected from the average consumer that he will read backwards, which means from left to right." Therefore, the trademark SMETANITO stays valid and the disputes between both competitors seem to be, for the time being, over.