Case T-384/13 Intermark srl v OHIM, The Coca-Cola Company, which represents an important victory in the company's efforts to protect its famous chromatic combination and script. Romanian company Intermark had applied to register the figurative mark on the left for various drinks in Class 32 and "advertising; Business management; Business administration; Office functions" in Class 35. The question which the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) and ultimately the General Court had to decide was whether that mark was confusingly similar to The Coca-Cola Company's earlier figurative CTM (below, right) covering non-alcoholic drinks in Class 32 and its CTM for the word mark COCA-COLA for, inter alia, “advertising, business management; business administration; office functions” in Class 35.
As regards the assessment of likelihood of confusion with the earlier word mark COCA-COLA to cover goods in Class 35, the court noted the dominant character of the term ‘cola’ in the mark applied for and acknowledged that it was a distinctive element in the earlier mark to cover services in Class 35. Added the court, the fantasy word ‘rienergy’, despite having distinctive character in respect of the goods and services at issue, played a subsidiary role in the mark applied for, even though it could not be categorised as totally negligible in the overall impression created by that mark; the same considerations applied to the figurative element situated above the word ‘rienergy’ [oh dear, at first glance this Kat didn't even notice that bit of Intermark's sign at all, his gaze being magnetically drawn to the script and the word 'Cola']. None of these elements were considered capable of preventing a likelihood of confusion, in the court’s view.
This decision comes in a particularly good timing, a few days after the trialling in Spain of a major redesign of Coca-Cola’s brand image under a ‘master brand’ strategy, which for the Spanish market translates into presenting the iconic red corporate colour prominently displayed across all varieties of its products.