The European Court of Justice recently grantedAG limited rights to use the trademark “Variant” in Spain, despite opposition from the country’s Nacional Motor SA, which manufactures performance motorcycles and scooters.
VW wanted to use the name to sell vehicles, engines and repair services in Spain.
However, Nacional, based in Martorelles, claimed consumers would confuse the name with its own trademarks, including Derbivariant, Derbi Variant and Variantderbi. All primarily are used in Spain to sell motorcycles and related accessories.
Nacional’s stance was supported by the gatekeeper for European Union trademarks, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs).
OHIM concluded there was “a risk of confusion,” given “the identity and the similarity between the products and the services concerned and of the visual, phonetic and conceptual similarities between the signs in conflict.”
While the court agreed that was so with vehicles, engines and repair services, it ruled OHIM erred by blocking VW’s registration of the Variant mark for other items that were part of the German auto-maker’s original application.
These include precious metals, jewelry, leather and leather goods, clothing, carpets and boxed games – none of which are associated directly with vehicles.