The High Court has overturned a decision to let a Taiwanese manufacturer register its trademark in Singapore, after ruling that the mark is similar to that of sportswear giant Adidas.
Judge Audrey Lim, in reversing a trademark registrar's decision, found that Lutong Enterprise Corp's mark of three sloping lines in an inverted pyramid with a circle at one end, is visually similar to Adidas' mark, and people may be confused by the two.
The Principal Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks, Ms See Tho Sok Yee, ruled last year that the two marks were "visually dissimilar".
She found that the Adidas mark resembled a pyramid, while Lutong's gave the impression of something "en pointe", and can be seen as a shuttlecock.
Adidas, represented by Drew and Napier lawyers Yvonne Tang, Jaswin Kaur Khosa and Edsmond Cheong, appealed against her decision.
At the appeal hearing last Monday, Judge Lim disagreed and said the two marks share common key components, namely that both comprised three trapezoids of staggering heights that are in the shape of a triangle.
While there are some differences, "it is assumed in a mark-for-mark analysis that the average consumer has 'imperfect recollection', and hence the contesting marks are not to be compared or assessed side by side", Judge Lim added, according to court papers obtained by The Straits Times.
Both companies also sell goods that are similar, if not identical, said the judge, adding that the items are "relatively inexpensive and purchased often without great attention or scrutiny given to them".
The two companies produce and sell clothing, footwear and other assorted items.
People may buy Lutong's products assuming they originate from Adidas, and expect the quality of Lutong's goods to be comparable with those of Adidas, she said.
"The connection is likely to damage Adidas' interest," she added.