Apple fails with an opposition against the registration of a Japanese trademark named “Apple Assist Center
In July 2016, a Japanese company applied for the registration of the trademark “Apple Assist Center” with JPO, the Japanese Patent Office for the following Nice classes:
· 35 (secretary services; telephone answering and message handling services; reception services for visitors)
· 36 (rental of business and commercial premises; management of buildings; providing information in the field of buildings for business and commercial use)
· 45 (rental of conference room; rental of exhibition room)
Apple shortly became aware of the Japanese trade mark and filed opposition to the registration invoking the Article 4 (1) (xv) of the Japanese Trademark Law which states that a trade mark may not be registered if the trade mark proprietor benefits from the confusion of his trade mark with known products or services from another company.
The JPO Opposition Board recognized that Apple products enjoy a good reputation and a high profile, however, it points out that the Apple products are fundamentally different from the types of products and services of the classes 35, 36 and 45 for which the “Apple Assist Center” trademark is registered for.
Furthermore, the Opposition Board states that the terms “Apple” and “Apple Assist Center” differ significantly from a phonetic and a visual point of view.
Another important part of the reasoning of the JPO Opposition Authority is that ‘Assist Center’ is not clearly descriptive of the services in Classes 35, 36 and 43. Therefore is not possible to split the word mark “Apple Assist Center” in two parts “Apple” and “Assist Center”, but must be always considered the word mark as a whole.
In conclusion there was no risk that the trademark “Apple Assist Center” could be linked to Apple Inc. products.