On September 13, 2018, the European General Court annulled a judgement given by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) against Apple.
In 2012,Tawain based company Apo International which deals in projector lamps filed an application at EUIPO to register a figurative sign showing half an apple and the word ‘apo’ in lower case. In 2013, Apple filed a notice of opposition based on three of its earlier marks, which were rejected by EUIPO’s Opposition Division in 2016.
EUIPO’s Opposition Division said that the degree of similarity between them was below average. EUIPO’s Opposition Division further agreed that the goods and services at the issue were identical but there was no likelihood of confusion between the two. EUIPO’s Fourth Board of Appeal dismissed the appeal made by Apple later in 2016, claiming the marks are not similar. Apple then argued before the General Court that the board did not apply the relevant case laws when analysing the similarity between two marks.
Apple stated that a customer would plainly see the figurative element i.e half of an apple and which will confuse the consumer. EUIPO discarded this argument saying that the half an apple element can be seen as the letter ‘c’ or as an orange and that the word ‘apo’ would be the first thing that the public notices.
The General Court discarded EUIPO’s arguments saying that oranges are rounded, which is not the same shape as that of the applied mark and that the mark can be seen as a stylish representation of part of an apple. Also, it said that the ‘apo’ word is not dominant and both the marks have the same impact on the overall assessment of the image, therefore the General Court ordered EUIPO to pay the respective costs.