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EUROPEAN UNION: EGC Considers the Perception of Non-Cyrillic Terms by Bulgarian Consumers

On September 22, 2017, the General Court of the European Union (ECG) rendered a judgment in which it assessed how a certain segment of EU consumers will perceive the word element of an EU trade mark (EUTM) that is not in their native language. T-586/15, ECLI:EU:T:2017:643.

Nara Tekstil Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi filed an EUTM application for the figurative sign NaraMaxx for goods and services in International Classes 18, 25, and 35. NBC Fourth Realty Corp. opposed the application on the basis of, among other issues, a Bulgarian national registration for MAXX covering the same classes. The EUIPO’s Opposition Division upheld the opposition and the applicant took the case before EUIPO’s Boards of Appeal (BoA). The Fourth BoA dismissed the appeal, confirming that the signs were visually and phonetically similar and that there was a likelihood of confusion. The BoA also considered that, since the signs had no conceptual meaning for Bulgarian consumers, the conceptual comparison between the marks was neutral for the outcome of the case.

The applicant sought the annulment of the BoA’s decision before the EGC, arguing in part that the term “maxx” had a laudatory...

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