Figurative elements can clearly prevail over word elements!!!

 CFI June 11, 2009 – T 151-08 – GALLO / GALLECS

The European Court of First Instance has held that the word and device trademarks GALLECS and GALLO below were dissimilar.

According to the CFI, the figurative element of the trademark applied for « occupied more than half of the circle and the word element slightly less than half ». Since the figurative element was larger than the word element, the CFI denied that the main visual element of the GALLECS mark was its word element. Moreover, because the image of the cockerel was larger than the word ‘gallo‘ in the earlier marks, it could not be said that the average consumer would not keep that image in mind.  

From a phonetic point of view, the Court held that the difference in pronunciation resulting from the endings of the words ‘gallo‘ and ‘Gallecs’ was significant because of the low-pitched sound of the letter ‘O’ and the harsh sound of the group of letters ‘ecs’. The Court further held that the figurative elements of the marks enabled the relevant public to distinguish between the marks.

GALLO is one of the very first Community decisions to state expressly that the figurative element of the mark prevails over the word element. It also shows that the visual comparison should be given more weight in the assessment of the likelihood of confusion between complex marks. This new approach should have an impact on both opposition and trademark search strategies.

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