Recent Swedish case law on likelihood of confusion assessment for descriptive trademarks

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The question of whether there exists likelihood of confusion between two trademarks may arise in several situations – for example, in the case of trademark registrations or oppositions to trademarks, or in the use of trademarks when marketing and selling goods and services.

It may seem commercially attractive to companies to register a trademark that contains descriptive elements, as the targeted consumers will quickly grasp the kind of goods or services sold under the trademark. However, the more descriptive the trademark, the narrower the scope of protection afforded.

To demonstrate the Swedish patent and market courts’ assessment of trademarks with descriptive elements (eg, a word trademark compared with another word trademark, a figurative trademark with another figurative trademark or a word trademark compared with a figurative trademark), this article compiles illustrative and relevant examples from Swedish registration and infringement case law from recent years. A recently decided case from the Patent and Market Court concerning likelihood of confusion between a company name and a trademark is also included.

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