SINGAPORE - Local tech firm V V Technology has been stopped from using a bird logo as its trademark, following a dispute with American social media giant Twitter over the trademark's registration.
The start-up had intended to display the logo in a mobile application that it has been developing since December 2018.
The app is aimed to be a platform hosting a range of products and services catering to a user's personal lifestyle needs, such as online shopping and food delivery. It has yet to be launched.
In its website, V V Technology said it employs the latest technology, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, to "reinvent the workplace" and is committed to creating a "smart, comprehensive enterprise and work management suite".
An online check by The Straits Times shows that the firm worked with students from the Singapore Management University on projects involving online business solutions in 2019.
It also obtained a travel agent licence from the Singapore Tourism Board in 2020, which will allow it to provide travel-related products and services.
V V Technology applied to register a logo of a bird in flight as a trademark on Sept 10, 2018. Twitter opposed the registration, arguing that the logo was similar to its mark of a bird, which had been earlier registered as a trademark, among other things.
The social media giant eventually won the case, with the principal assistant registrar of Trade Marks, Mr Mark Lim, ruling in its favour.
In his grounds of decision dated March 11 this year, Mr Lim found that the two marks are visually similar, although only to a low extent.
Among other things, both depict a bird in side profile and do not show features such as eyes.
He also ruled that the marks are conceptually identical, as they both convey the notion of a "bird in flight".
In assessing whether consumers would be confused by the two logos, Mr Lim noted that the reputation of Twitter's logo would reduce the likelihood of confusion.
But he found that consumers may still be confused as they may perceive an economic link between both marks - either that V V Technology's mark is a new version of Twitter's icon, or that it is a modified mark that Twitter is using for new digital services related to its current business.
He disagreed with V V Technology's argument that members of the public who use mobile applications are "digital natives".
The firm had claimed that mobile app users here are unlikely to be easily deceived or hoodwinked, and therefore less likely to be confused by the two marks.
"While some may undoubtedly be more tech-savvy, a substantial proportion would not," said Mr Lim in his grounds of decision.
"Indeed, tech companies continually make their services more user-friendly, such that non-technically inclined members of the public would still be able to navigate these services easily."
Mr Lim agreed with Twitter that some services provided by both companies, such as ones relating to the provision of information, are likely to be provided at low cost or for free.
It is probable that the average consumer is likely to pay a low or below-average degree of attention when procuring such services and is therefore more likely to be confused between the two marks, he added.
"To take (V V Technology's) example of mobile applications, there is no compelling reason why a member of the public would pay an enhanced level of attention before installing a mobile application which is available at no cost," said Mr Lim.
"If the wrong mobile application is installed, it is easy enough to delete it and install the correct one."