Ariana Grande Loses Trademark Opposition at Japan Patent Office

The Japan Patent Office (JPO) dismissed an opposition filed by GrandAri Inc., the owner of a trademark “ARIANA GRANDE”, against TM Reg no. 6202585 for wordmark “Arianna” to be used on cosmetics by finding dissimilarity between “Arianna” and “ARIANA GRANDE.”
[Opposition case no. 2020-900051, Gazette issued date: January 29, 2021.]

Opposed mark

Arianna Co., Ltd. applied for a wordmark “Arianna” registration for use on cosmetics, soaps, and detergents of Class 3 and medical apparatus of Class 10 with the JPO on January 7, 2019 (TM Application no. 2019-000339).

The JPO admitted the registration of the opposed mark on November 29, 2019, and published for opposition on Christmas Eve of the year.

Opposition by GrandAri Inc.

On February 21, 2020, GrandAri Inc. filed an opposition before the JPO and claimed that the opposed mark shall be revocable in contravention of Article 4(1)(xi) and (xv) of the Japan Trademark Law by citing International Registration no. 1260129 for wordmark “ARIANA GRANDE” and others over the goods of ‘Perfume; eau de parfum; fragranced body care preparations, namely, body lotions, body scrubs’ in Class 3.

Article 4(1)(xi) is a provision to prohibit registering a junior mark that is deemed identical with, or similar to, any senior registered mark.

GrandAri argued that relevant consumers would easily think of American pop superstar from the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE”. Besides, because of her celebrity and popularity, she is affectionately called by her first name “ARIANA”. In view of the space between “ARIANA” and “GRANDE”, it is highly likely that the consumers would consider the term “ARIANA” as a dominant source indicator at the sight of the cited mark. It is no doubt that the opposed mark “Arianna” is confusingly similar to “ARIANA” since the mere difference of the letter ‘n’ is negligible in appearance and both terms give rise to the same pronunciation.

Article 4(1)(xv) provides that any mark shall not be registered where it is likely to cause confusion with other business entity’s well-known goods or services, to the benefit of brand owners and users’ benefits.

GrandAri argued the cited mark is used on fragrances developed by Ariana herself, which are also called “ARIANA” in the advertisement.

Given a close resemblance between the opposed mark and the “ARIANA” mark, and a certain degree of popularity of the fragrances, firstly sold in November 2015 in Japan, it is likely to cause confusion with the cited mark when the opposed mark is used on the goods in question.

JPO Decision

The JPO admitted a high level of reputation and popularity of American pop singer, “ARIANA GRANDE” in Japan. In the meantime, the JPO questioned, from the produced evidence, whether the term “ARIANA” per se plays a role of the source indicator of Ariana Grande fragrances since it is constantly adjacent to the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE.”
Consequently, the JPO negated the famousness of the term “ARIANA” as a source indicator of the opponent’s goods.

As for the similarity of the marks, the JPO assessed that relevant consumers would see the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE” in its entirety because she is known and called by her full name. If so, both marks are distinctively dissimilar since the opposed mark does neither give rise to a pronunciation of “ARIANA GRANDE” nor a concept of American pop superstar.

The JPO dared to assess the similarity between the opposed mark “Arianna” and “ARIANA” and held that “Arianna” is not confusingly similar to “ARIANA” from a phonetical point of view. Due to a low level of similarity of the marks, the JPO does not have any reason to believe that the opposed mark would cause confusion with the cited mark “ARIANA GRANDE” as well as “ARIANA” when used on cosmetics, soaps, and detergents of Class 3.

Based on the foregoing, the JPO dismissed the entire allegations of GrandAri and allowed “Arianna” to survive.

Masaki MIKAMI, Attorney at IP LAW – Founder of MARKS IP LAW FIRM