Can incorporating the organization identify to a mark steer clear of infringement?
This charm concentrated on two usually applied defences to a assert of
trade mark infringement: adding of the firm identify, and
acquiescence. In the scenario of the previous, including the alleged
infringing firm’s name is often deployed as a means to
distinguish the two marks. However, does this, in fact, necessarily mean there
is now no probability of confusion or even the marks are
As for acquiescence, this is invariably reality delicate, and
depends on the proprietor being informed of the alleged infringing
mark’s existence and use. If the proprietor does not act
immediately in bringing their claim, the defendant might argue that they
have acquiesced and consequently can no for a longer period oppose the
defendant’s use of the afterwards mark. The concerns often faced
by a court are: the extent of the proof the defendant requirements to
create the proprietor has acquiesced and what measures the
proprietor requires to have taken to prevent a prosperous defence of
Written by Lauren Palmer, Authorized Assistant at Dehns.
Combe Worldwide LLC and anor v Dr August Wolff GmbH
& Co. KG Arzneimittel and anor  EWCA Civ 1562
The Claimants (‘Combe’) offered, on a global scale, female
personal hygiene products beneath the mark VAGISIL. In the Uk, items
beneath that mark have been to start with marketed in 1984. Registrations in both
classes 5 or 3 ended up acquired in 1975, 1985 and 2006. The Defendants
(‘Dr Wolff’) also offered feminine hygiene products and solutions, beneath the
mark VAGISAN, first in Germany from the early 2000s and thereafter
in other marketplaces. In Oct 2008, Dr Wolff applied for an
Intercontinental Registration (together with US and EU designations) for
VAGISAN in classes 3 and 5, relying on an before German
registration. VAGISAN was registered as a EUTM in December 2012. Dr
Wolff introduced a product less than that mark in the Uk in February
Combe opposed the US VAGISAN designation in 2013. Individually, Dr
Wolff stopped promotion its VAGISAN creams in the British isles from June
2014, and these were subsequently delisted. In between September 2015
and August 2016 only 498 VAGISAN lotions ended up sold in the Uk, and no
Google lookup interest was noticed. Combe hence believed Dr
Wolff no extended sold VAGISAN branded merchandise in the United kingdom.
In December 2016, Dr Wolff put in £600,000 on a Television campaign
to relaunch VAGISAN in the Uk. Product sales of both equally VAGISIL and relaunched
VAGISAN products greater, demonstrating authentic confusion among
In 2017, Combe sought cancellation of the VAGISAN EUTM. The
Cancellation Division invalidated the mark in 2019, which decision
was upheld by the Board of Appeal in 2020. An attractiveness choice from
that is at this time superb.
On 31 January 2020, Combe served infringement proceedings of its
3 marks towards Dr Wolff in the United kingdom Substantial Court, pursuant to
s10(2)(b) Trade Marks Act 1994 (comparable marks/similar items),
relying on four scenarios from Dr Wolff’s internet site from July
2014 to January 2020. Rebranding commenced from September 2020 to
DR WOLFF’S VAGISAN, and Dr Wolff counterclaimed trying to get a
declaration of non-infringement. At to start with occasion, it was held
VAGISAN branded goods had infringed, Combe did not acquiesce
irrespective of being mindful of the VAGISAN registration and use in the British isles
from January 2014, and the counterclaim unsuccessful as there remained a
chance of confusion by use of DR WOLFF’S VAGISAN.
Dr Wolff appealed on a few grounds: (a) the s48(1) acquiescence
defence (b) a defence less than s11(1) (use of later registered mark
does not infringe earlier a person) and (c) no threat of confusion by use
of DR WOLFF’S VAGISAN.
The defence under s48(1) failed at trial because the 1st
occasion decide regarded: (1) the EUIPO cancellation action
interrupted any interval of acquiescence (2) that motion, put together
with the before correspondence, interrupted the interval (3) the
defence was unavailable as Dr Wolff experienced not continuously utilized the
mark for five a long time and (4) Combe was unaware of the use amongst
2015 and 2016.
Obtaining thought of very carefully and entirely the CJEU circumstance legislation on
acquiescence, Arnold LJ disagreed with the to start with a few explanations
presented by the judge for rejecting this defence. In essence, this was
because the proprietor should oppose the use of the mark:
opposing the registration is not opposing the use. On the other hand, he
agreed that Combe did not have the requisite consciousness of Dr
Wolff’s use during the relevant period, as they had moderately
considered for the interval amongst 2015 to 2016 that Dr Wolff have been no
longer marketing VAGISAN branded items in the United kingdom. The enchantment on
acquiescence was dismissed.
A complicating component related to the defence less than s11(1) was
that the mark relied on was Dr Wolff’s EUTM, which
(potentially) may possibly endure the opposition and charm procedure.
Having said that, this was only related if Combe had acquiesced, and so
Arnold LJ dismissed the enchantment.
Eventually, Arnold LJ upheld the trial judge’s finding that the
DR WOLFF’S VAGISAN mark would give increase to a probability of
confusion when deemed alongside Combe’s VAGISIL mark. Of
significance to his decision have been his conclusions that: (1) the
common shopper could understand a composite mark as consisting of
multiple signs, 1 or much more of which has a exclusive significance
independently of the whole and (2) DR WOLFF, as a residence mark, was
not well known to the ordinary purchaser, but even if it had been,
this would not automatically have avoided the risk of confusion.
There are two critical classes to consider absent from this charm.
Initially, creating letters and/or bringing a cancellation action alone
will not prevent a proprietor currently being viewed as to have acquiesced to
the use of the later mark. To be in a position to
‘stop the clock’ on the 5 many years passing, an motion for
infringement is necessary. This follows on from the CJEU decision in
Situation C-466/20 Heitec AG v Heitech Marketing GmbH generating
the identical level.
The second lesson is that infringement could not be prevented even
when the alleged infringing mark is utilised with a ‘house’
Arnold LJ did not say that this would never ever be sufficient, nor
did he say that an independently unique ingredient would
inevitably lead to a chance of confusion. What was produced apparent,
on the other hand, was that an evaluation of all suitable aspects will always
The content of this write-up is intended to present a typical
tutorial to the matter make a difference. Specialist guidance really should be sought
about your particular circumstances.