Battle of the whisky’s: Ardbeg v Arlberg trade mark dispute

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has ruled in favour of Macdonald & Muir Limited (owners of the Ardbeg distillery), following a lengthy trade mark battle against rival brand Arlberg whisky.

The dispute arose when Liechtenstein based entrepreneur Norbert Rom filed a trade mark application for ‘Arlberg Whisky’ in 2018. Following the filing, owners of the Ardbeg distillery filed an opposition against the application quoting that the name ‘Arlberg’ was too similar to ‘Ardberg’ and that the oral similarities between the two names will result in consumer confusion. Ardbeg further argued that this confusion will also likely cause damage to their reputation as a distillery.

In the ruling, the EUIPO stated that the two names were “aurally similar to a high degree” and visually similar “to a degree that is above average” and “It is highly conceivable that the relevant consumer (whether professional or not) will perceive the contested sign as a sub-brand, a mere variation of the earlier mark. It follows that the contested sign must be rejected for all the contested goods and services.”

The application for ‘Arlberg Whisky’ has now been dismissed and applicant Nobert Rom must compensate Macdonald & Muir Limited costs of £540.

If you have any questions relating to this article, or are concerned someone else is infringing your trade mark, contact Lawdit today.

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