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Mastercard loses

January 2019. Mastercard has failed to halt the European registration the logo Lark, on grounds that it is too similar to its own. According to the European Trademark Office EUIPO, there’s is no risk of the two logos being confused.

Large number of products

Like many major brands, Mastercard has registered its trademark for a large number of products and services, even though it will never use them for many of these, such as caravans. Yes, it’s true: the famous yellow and red Mastercard logo has also been registered in Europe for caravans! Well, you never know, do you?

No worries

Recently, Mastercard’s trademark registration for caravans looked to be about to prove its value, when a Polish company applied for trademark protection for the device mark Lark for caravans and mobile homes that strongly resembled Mastercard’s own. No worries, Mastercard clearly thought. But things turned out differently.

No risk of confusion

EUIPO concluded that the two logos were in fact quite dissimilar. Granted, both depicted yellow and red circles, but otherwise they differed in many ways, EUIPO said. The Lark logo consists of 3 circles containing stripes and a horizontal white bar. Crucially, the word Lark also features prominently. All in all, then, there were enough differences to ensure that there was no risk consumers would confuse the two logos, the trademark office concluded.

Surprising

A surprising outcome, to say the least. The first surprise is the view that there’s no risk of confusion. Although Mastercard doesn’t use its logo for caravans, it owns full trademark rights to do so. So if you were to see a caravan bearing a Mastercard logo, you’d surely be confused if you then saw one with a Lark logo?

The second surprise is that a multinational like Mastercard didn’t claim the worldwide reputation of its logo as part of its opposition (did they forget?). If it had, it would have had a much greater chance of success.

Bas Kist