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PORTUGAL: Red Bull Emphasizes Confusion and Reputation in Successful Appeal Against BULLS

Red Bull GmbH opposed a Portuguese trademark application on the grounds of the prior trademarks. The Portuguese Trademark Office (PTO) dismissed the opposition and granted the application. However, following several steps in the appeal process, the Court of Appeal of Lisbon finally qualified RED BULL as a trademark with a reputation and refused the trademark BULLS due to risk of confusion. The Portuguese IP Journal published the Court of Appeal decision, case no. 196/21.8YHLSB.L1, on July 6, 2022.

Two individuals filed an application for Portuguese trademark no. 649013 on September 4, 2020, for goods and services in Classes 25 and 41. Red Bull GmbH opposed this application on December 18, 2020, on the grounds of likelihood of confusion and the reputation of its prior EU trademarks: No. 017363037, applied for on October 18, 2017, No. 017363094 applied for on October 18, 2017, and No. 018061503, applied for on May 7, 2019, in Classes 25 and 41, among others.

On March 24, 2021, the PTO granted the application. The PTO shared the view that, even if RED BULL trademarks do hold a reputation, the conflicting trademarks convey dissimilar overall impressions.

Red Bull GmbH appealed to the IP Court, which revoked the PTO’s decision on November 22, 2021.

The IP Court held that BULLS and RED BULL are graphically and aurally similar, conceptually identical, and consumers find the bull device elements to be similar. The court also recognized RED BULL trademarks’ reputation and declared that could unduly benefit from it or harm it.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the IP Court’s view that is graphically, aurally, conceptually, and visually similar to RED BULL’s trademarks and stated that there was a likelihood of confusion and association for consumers. The court also recognized RED BULL trademarks’ reputation, thus enjoying enhanced protection, and confirmed the refusal of that application.

The Court of Appeal’s decision is final.


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