Trademark Oppositions

Omega’s Failed Trademark Oppositions – It’s All Greek to Me!

Our coverage of IP developments now moves into trademark law. In recent proceedings, in Australia and New Zealand, the watch company Omega opposed a stitch design on the jeans brand True Religion, which is owned by Guru Denim.

Omega’s trademark opposition

Omega’s arguments included that the Guru mark inverted (upside down) on the True Religion jeans would indicate a connection between Omega and Guru that would be detrimental to Omega. Take a look yourself at the symbols:

Omega

Omega - Trademark Opposition

Guru (inverted)

Inverted Guru Mark True Religion Jeans. Photo credit Christian Welsh Flickr #2364091061 https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

In both Australian and New Zealand in the first instance, Omega’s opposition failed on the basis that the placement of its logo in the word Omega causes it to be orientated as intended. So there wouldn’t be a likelihood of confusion with the stylised ”U” (whether upside down or not) used on the True Religion jeans.

The trademark opposition appeal: alpha, beta … omega

In New Zealand but not in Australia, Omega appealed the decision (you can read the appeal here). Omega cited previous cases in which inverted marks were held to lead to a likelihood of confusion, but these were distinguished from Omega’s case on their facts.

The court decided that the strong link between the Omega symbol to the Greek letter omega would reduce the risk of confusion with the Guru symbol, which even if upside down would be seen without any real risk of confusion by people (whether or not aware of the Greek letter omega) as an inverted-U with downward arms.

The takeaway? Trademark protection is difficult

On a general level, the outcome offers an insight into the difficulty of trademark protection, especially considering that Omega only opposed Guru’s application for class 14 goods (such as watches) and not other classes.

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