Trademark opposition — the Z factor returns: Zebexir vs Zebinix

An application for an EU mark ZEBEXIR in classes three and five was opposed by the owner of the earlier mark ZEBINIX for identical goods in classes three and five and services in class 42.

Both OHIM and the Board of Appeal dismissed the opposition. However, the European General Court (GC) annulled the appeal decision on the basis that there was a likelihood of confusion. The GC considered that there was a high degree of phonetic and visual similarity between both signs, based on: (a) consumers attach more importance to the prefix of a word, here the identical ZEB; and (b) the suffix INIX and EXIR were very close as they had the common ‘X’, which is visually striking, reinforcing the similarity in supermarkets.

In terms of the goods covered, the GC considered that the goods in class three and a large proportion of the goods in class five — food for babies, materials for dressings, disinfectants, preparations for destroying vermin, fungicides and herbicides (but not pharmaceutical products) are normally displayed and as a consequence the visual similarity of the signs was important…

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