General Court of the EU Judgment T-44/20: Trademark dispute between Chanel and Huawei

On 26 September 2017, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd applied for registration of the following figurative trademark for inter alia, computer hardware:

On 28 December 2017, Chanel filed an opposition to the registration of this trademark on the grounds that the mark in question had similarities with its own earlier French trademark registered for perfumery goods, cosmetics, costume jewellery, leather goods and clothing:

EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) rejects Chanel's appeal against the registration of Huawei's trademark on the grounds that the said figurative marks are not similar to each other. The EUIPO found no likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

In judgment T-44/20 of 21 April 2021, the General Court of the European Union dismisses Chanel's action seeking annulment of that decision. In its assessment, the General Court examines, in particular, the degree of similarity between the conflicting signs.

In that regard, the Court points out that, in order to assess their identity or similarity, conflicting marks must be compared in the form in which they are registered and applied for, regardless of whether they may be used on the market in rotated orientation.

In doing so, it finds, inter alia, that the trademark applied for by Huawei is a figurative sign consisting of a circle containing two curved lines that look like two black letters 'U' arranged vertically and mirrored, the lines crossing and intersecting so as to form a horizontal ellipse in the centre. By contrast, Chanel's two trademarks consist of two curved lines which look like two black letters 'C' arranged horizontally and mirrored, the lines crossing and overlapping so as to form a vertical ellipse; the second of those marks has the particularity that those curved lines are inside a circle.

Although the marks at issue have certain similarities, they also have significant visual differences. In particular, in the case of Chanel's trademarks, the curves of the curved lines are more pronounced, the stroke width is wider and the lines are oriented horizontally, whereas in the case of Huawei's mark, the orientation is vertical.

The Court therefore concludes that the trademarks are different.

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