The General Court (formerly CFI) has held on March 4, 2010, likelihood of confusion between the marks AVANZALENE (filed by Mundipharma AG) and the earlier opposed trademark AVANZ (owned by ALK-Abello A/S) both in class 5.
The Opposition Division of the OHIM first rejected the CTM application. Mundipharma AG the appealed but the Fourth Board of Appeal of OHIM upheld the decision of the Opposition Division.
While confirming the previous findings, the General Court pointed out that i) consumers pay greater attention to the beginnings of word marks and that ii) the applicant for the CTM failed to demonstrate that the ending ‘ALENE’ was fanciful and uncommon.
Given the difference of length and overall sound between the marks, this is one decision quite symptomatic of the usual approach to apply when assessing similarity between pharmaceutical trademarks whether in the contest of availability searches, oppositions or other enforcement proceedings. This approach however only applies provided that the common prefix has no meaning or possible evocation for the products at hands.