Philip Morris trademark lawsuit dismissed
MOSCOW, April 25 - RAPSI. The Moscow Commercial Court has dismissed the Philip Morris tobacco company's lawsuit and supported the patent agency's decision to deny the trademark registration of Optima Zolotaya cigarettes.
The Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Patents and Trademarks ruled that the trademark is confusingly similar to some trademarks previously registered by British American Tobacco-Java.
The agency believes the word "Zolotaya" can be seen as an independent element, which would infringe on the British American Tobacco-Java's trademark rights.
Last March Philip Morris attempted to challenge the agency's decision, claiming that the word "Zolotaya" on a pack of cigarettes is not perceived separately from the word "Optima." However, the Patent Disputes Chamber found these arguments unconvincing. The company disagreed with the service and took the matter to court.
The plaintiff provided the court with a sociological survey, allegedly proving that the trademarks cannot be confused. The research revealed that the brands are different in terms of phonetics, appearance and semantics. The word "Zolotaya" is not the key element. In addition, 97 percent of respondents said they would never mix these brands up.
The patent authority stated in court that the survey does not conform to legal standards and in fact it should be interpreted as supporting its own position, since 19 percent of respondents believed the trademarks were held by one company.
The British American Tobacco Russia sided with the patent service claiming that the trademarks look similar.
Phillip Morris International has representative offices in over 160 countries. Its head office is in New York. The company owns various cigarette brands including Marlboro, L&M, Chesterfield and Bond Street. Philip Morris held a 16-percent share of the international market in 2010.
Established in the UK in 1902, British American Tobacco is only second to Philip Morris International. Its brands include Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Kent and Dunhill. The company has 45 plants in 39 countries.