Friday, December 19, 2014

Volvo v. Lovol: Similarity in Trademark

Similarity in Trademark has been the cause of battle for many companies. Automobile giant, Volvo had tried to oppose the registration of “Lovol” by Hebei Aulion Heavy Industries Ltd. for agricultural machines and vehicles. Volvo had contended that “Lovol” might create confusion in the minds of the consumer due to similarity in visual symmetry, concept and phonetics. Both the marks consisted of five letters and were rearrangements of letters and sounds ‘V’, ‘O’ and ‘L’. Connection can be made between the two due to the “visual dictionary” in the human brain.

OHIM decided the matter in favour of “Lovol”. On an appeal by Volvo in General Court of the European Court of Justice, it upheld OHIM’s decision. It held that consumers focus more on the beginning of a word and both the first and last letter differ. Though there are several letters which coincide in the two marks, there is no connection due to lack of visual, aural similarity as per Article 8(5) of Regulation 207/2009 on the Community Trade Mark .Use of “Lovol” will not be detrimental to the distinctive character of the earlier trade mark (Volvo). 

Thus, the General Court dismissed Volvo’s claims in its entirety.

-Shambhavi Mishra