Bacardi Trademark Stopped in its Tracks by Absinthe

An application from the worlds largest family owned spirits company, to register a whiskey trademark known as ‘Angels Envy’ has been denied by the International Property Office, with the decision delivered on Tuesday 6th February. The Bacardi company applied to the European Union Intellectual Property Office to register the mark in March 2015, it was then converted into a UK trademark in April 2017 under class 33, listed as a North American whiskey and related drinks.

An opposition was then filed by La Fee, a distiller and manufacturer of absinthe who also has a brand named ‘Envy’ trademarked under EU trademark number 013, 711 and 321. The trademark was registered also in 2015, covering spirits and drinks that contained absinthe in class 22.

Bacardi has “made no other comment” on the similarity of other goods included in the class in this case spirits. But has denied any “similarity between the marks” that could lead to confusion claiming there was no similarity between absinthe or any products containing absinthe, in their own goods or La Fee’s goods.

The office found that the marks were “visually, aurally and conceptually similar to a medium degree” and that the goods covered by the marks to be absolutely identical, despite the additional word in the contested mark.

It was found by the UKIPO that “there I no likelihood of direct confusion”, but because of the additional word it did find there to be a likelihood of indirect confusion, “as if the consumer does not mistake one mark for the other, they are likely to believe that the respective goods come from the same or economically linked undertakings”.

It was concluded that ‘Angel’s Envy’ may lead consumers to believe that it is a variant flavour of La Fee’s beverages. In light of this Bacardi’s application to register Angel’s Envy’ was refused and they were ordered to pay La Fee a sum of £600 ($837) for costs incurred.

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