In a recent trademark opposition, Opposition Board of the Japan Patent Office (JPO) decided the mark “KAPAPA” is unlikely to cause confusion with “Kappa”, one of the world’s largest sport brands founded in 1960s, Italy even when used on sport wears.[Opposition case no. 2017-900115, decisively concluded on August 17, 2017]
Opponent, a Japanese business entity authorized to distribute “Kappa” goods in Japan, filed a trademark opposition against TM registration no. 5912402 for the “KAPAPA” logo mark (see below).
Opposed mark was applied for registration on April 20, 2016 by designating various goods in class 18 and 25, e.g. bags, clothing, sport wears, sport shoes, caps and socks.
Opponent asserted that the opposed mark violates Article 4(1)(xi) and 4(1)(xix) of the Trademark Law by citing senior registrations for the “Kappa” mark.
Based on substantive evidential materials to show the facts the “Kappa” is ranked as 6th sport brand in annual sale and has been promoted in Japan over three decades, the Opposition Board admitted that “Kappa” has acquired a certain degree of popularity and reputation among relevant consumers as a source indicator of workout clothes, gym clothes, athletic wear and soccer wear.
In the meantime, the Board denied similarity between “KAPAPA” and “Kappa” by taking into consideration a distinctive gap in sound and meaning of respective mark as a whole.
As a conclusion, the opposition is groundless since it shall be unlikely that relevant consumers with an ordinary care would confuse or associate “KAPAPA” wears with “Kappa” and any entity systematically or economically connected with opponent, the Board held.
MASAKI MIKAMI, Attorney at IP Law – Founder of MARKS IP LAW FIRM