The French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, which is the holder of a large number of trademarks related to its portfolio of products, failed in its oppositions that it filed before the Japanese Trademark Office against the registered trademark Noreal.
The Noreal trademark, just like the majority of L’Oreal trademarks, is registered in class 3 of the Nice Classification of goods and services, which class refers to cosmetic products.
L’Oreal’s main argument before the Japanese Office is that there is a strong similarity between Noreal and the globally recognized L’Oreal brand both visually and phonetically. Such similarity can cause confusion among average consumers when purchasing cosmetic products.
However, the Japanese Office pointed out that, in its view, the trademarks differ to a significant extent. Namely, according to the decision, the initial letter of the two trademarks is different, N versus L, which significantly affects the visual and aural experience of the trademarks. In confirmation of this, from the evidence submitted by L`Oreal it was not obvious that the L’Oréal mark was highly recognized as a source indicator of L’Oréal among a wide range of consumers.
According to experts, this decision would not have had the same outcome on the soil of Europe (and especially not in the European Union) because L’Oréal is a well-known brand, whose trademarks enjoy a higher degree of protection.