Albanian PTO Rules In Favor Of Serbian Chips Producer In Trademark Opposition Case Against Macedonian Competitor

In October 2011, Marbo Product, Serbian producer and distributor of chips and baked products, active in the Balkan region and holder of many trademark registrations consisting of the common verbal element 'CHiPSY', filed an opposition at the Albanian PTO against the international application for registration of the CHIPS'Y KING, word mark only, in IC 29 (potato chips).

Marbo Product based the opposition on its previous international registrations (IR) designated in Albania, namely IR 1041331 - CHiPSY word and device mark, IR 923684 - CHiPSY Paprika word and device mark, IR 929513 - CHiPSY Chili word and device mark and IR 929514 - CHiPSY Cheddar word and device mark, all registered inter alia in IC 29.

The opponent claimed the likelihood of confusion would inevitably occur due to the similarities between the marks, used for identical goods, as well as the consumers' low level of attention. The opponent also proved the use of its marks.

The applicant, the Macedonian chips producer DPTTGU "MDZ ROBIN" replied to the opposition, arguing that the co-existence of the disputed marks would not cause the likelihood of confusion.

The Albanian PTO Appeal Board found the marks confusingly similar and decided in favor of the opponent. The decision has become final because the applicant did not appeal within the prescribed period of time.

During these particular opposition proceedings, the Appeal Board made some interesting rulings regarding the issue of estimating the distinctive character of a mark. Namely, the Appeal Board put emphasis on the importance of identifying the distinctive character of the marks in question, stating that this factor is important when estimating the likelihood of confusion. This is in line with the EU criteria and it can be regarded as a step forward in the Albanian practice, because the Appeal Board previously did not pay specific attention to this factor.

The Appeal Board also focused on the issue of determining the distinctive character of the marks consisting of foreign language words. The Appeal Board stated that words could have a specific...

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