IKEA has been waging a war against Multimate‘s logos since 2006. In the most recent battle, the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) found that the latest figurative trademark from Multimate (below) is not similar enough to IKEA’s trademarks (above).
The latest logo was found not to be an infringement namely because there is no visual similarity. The BOIP found as follows in this respect (free translation):
“44. The right invoked is purely a figurative trademark, consisting of a light blue rectangle containing a yellow oval, as a result of which only the four corners with the curves of the oval are visible in blue. The contested sign is a combined verbal/figurative trademark, consisting of a rectangle divided into two sections. In the upper, blue section, the word MULTIMATE is written in large white letters. In the lower, smaller, dark-yellow section, the word BOUWMARKT is written in smaller blue letters. The two sections are separated by a curved line that starts at the bottom left in white as a separation of the two sections and extends to the right-hand side in the middle of the rectangle.
45. In the event of composite signs (including both a verbal and figurative element), the verbal element often has a greater impact on the consumer than the figurative element. The reason for this is that the audience does not always analyse the signs and often refers to the sign by using the verbal element (in this sense, see also CFI T-312/03, SELENIUM-ACE, 14 July 2005). As already noted above, the verbal element MULTIMATE is unmistakeably noticeable and is a dominant element of the sign (see point 42). Since the right invoked contains no verbal elements whatsoever, the signs are not similar in this respect.
46. The colours and the use thereof and the graphic presentation of trademark and sign are different, in the Office’s opinion. The right invoked has two basic elements, an oval and a rectangle, while the contested sign has several graphic elements that have been ranked in connection with each other.
47. The signs are not visually similar.”
The BOIP also noted that it must only take the reputation of the trade mark, argued by IKEA, into consideration in the assessment of whether a likelihood of confusion arises – so only once it has been established that the trademarks are similar – not in order to demonstrate similarity. However, as stated, IKEA’s trademarks and Multimate’s sign are not similar and IKEA’s opposition was therefore rejected.
The Appeal Court of The Hague had ruled earlier that the logo below from Multimate did indeed constitute an infringement: