Opposition of Canal+ to trademark FOX+ unsuccessful

20 April 2020

The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) recently rejected an opposition filed by the French Groupe Canal+ (Canal+) to a Benelux trademark application of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Fox) for the word mark FOX+.

Canal+ filed its opposition at the BOIP on the ground that there is a likelihood of confusion because the trademark FOX+ is similar to the prior trademarks of Canal+ relied on, as well as identity and/or similarity of the goods or services concerned. Canal+ based its opposition on the word mark PLUS, a device mark and some other trademarks containing verbal elements and the same aforementioned device mark.

Dissimilarity of trademarks

The BOIP first determined that there is no similarity between FOX+ and the trademarks of Canal+ containing verbal elements and the ‘+’ device mark. Due to the differences in the verbal elements, Canal+’s trademarks are considered to be visually, orally and conceptual dissimilar. It is true that they all have a ‘+’ in common, but this is insufficient to conclude that the marks are similar in their overall impression.

No genuine use PLUS and ‘+’device mark

The BOIP agreed with Fox that the evidence submitted by Canal+ did not demonstrate genuine use. As a consequence the BOIP did not take into account these two trademarks when assessing the risk of confusion.

No reputation of ‘+’ per se

Canal+ argued that the trademarks it relied on in this opposition are well-known and in support of this submitted a market survey report relating to the word mark CANAL+.

The BOIP agreed with Fox that the market survey related to a trademark not relied on by Canal+ in this opposition. In addition, even if the mark CANAL+ would be reputed, this does not mean that the separate element ‘+’ should be considered reputed as well.

FOX+ not part of a family of trademarks

Canal+ furthermore argued that its trademarks form a family of marks. Any mark composed of any term followed by the + sign, such as FOX+, is likely to cause not only a risk of confusion, but also a risk of association which may lead the public to believe that said mark is part of its family of trademarks.

The BOIP noted that the trademarks of Canal+ are composed of one or two words accompanied by one or two geometric figures and followed by a white cross on a black background. According to the BOIP there are no similarities between these trademarks and the trademark FOX+, that would lead the consumer to associate the latter with the trademarks of Canal+.

No likelihood of confusion

In view of the foregoing the BOIP concluded that there is no likelihood of confusion, because the trademarks containing the ‘+’ device, even if they would be reputed, are all dissimilar to FOX+.

As a result Canal+’s opposition is rejected and the trademark FOX+ will be registered for all goods and services applied for.

The decision can be accessed here.

The case was handled for FOX by trademark attorney Adee Keppy.