Wagamama wins TM dispute against ‘Wakayama’ instant noodles

The well-known Japanese inspired British restaurant chain, has successfully prevented the registration of rival trademark ‘Wakayama’ after it was ruled by the UK Intellectual Property Office that it was too similar to the existing restaurants trademark.

Wakayama was the mark that British company ‘cable logic’ tried to register, for their products which included ready meals and instant meals containing noodles made of rice and meat. On December 19th 2018 the Intellectual Property Office denied ‘Wakayama’ registration on the grounds it would cause confusion to the average customer.

This decision was based upon the fact that they felt the goods being supplied to consumers were almost identical and the mark ‘Wakayama’ was visually and aurally too similar. It was also believed that as a result of the similarity people would think the two chains were connected therefore allowing cable logic to gain an unfair advantage on Wagamama’s reputation. Wagamama were also concerned that if they were linked it might put customers off the chain which would affect them financially if Wakayama had any bad publicity.

Cable logic denied all of the grounds for opposition from Wagamama’s and tried to argue that “if pronounced clearly by a reasonable person Wakayama does not sound the same as Wagamama”. This was strongly opposed by the Intellectual Property Offices Heather Harrison as she stated the two were extremely similar, especially as the first and last syllables “are identical.” Harrison then went onto say that although the second and third syllables were “different in consonant sound (GA KA)” they “share the same vowel sound.”

It was concluded that the average consumer “rarely has the opportunity to make direct comparisons between trademarks” and must instead rely upon “the imperfect picture of them he has retained in his mind.” therefore it was thought that the average consumer is likely to “imperfectly recollect” the verbal elements of Wagamama when looking at Wakayama and conclude the latter mark is being used by Wagamama.

Harrison ordered Cable logic to pay Wagamama £1,000 in costs.

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