Trade mark ruling in American Airlines case upheld by UKIPO

An opposition to a trade mark application penned by travel company Advantage Travel Centres has been upheld by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO).

Advantage Travel Centres had submitted a trade mark application in relation to two design marks, hoping to register the colour and greyscale of the designs in the travel and accommodation services sectors.

However, shortly afterwards, American Airlines filed a trade mark opposition to the application amid concerns that Advantage’s proposed designs would be “confusingly similar” to existing trade marks currently held by the international airline operator.

Examining the case, a hearing officer considered that, due to the fact the two companies operate largely in the same sectors, Advantage’s application may lead to confusion among customers.

On 19 January 2018, the officer found that this would indeed be the case, as Advantage’s application did not seek to limit the category of services the protection would apply to. Due to this, the officer upheld American Airlines’ complaint.

Later, on 24 January, Advantage submitted a “fall-back position” by letter to the UKIPO indicating that it would limit the specification of its proposed trade marks solely to travel services, to avoid any potential confusion with airline services.

However, the decision in favour of American Airlines’ opposition was upheld, amid concerns that the design remained  “visually and conceptually” similar to that owned by American Airlines.

An officer examining the case added that the design would still not avoid confusion with American Airlines general services, which “naturally include services offered to travel agents.”

Advantage was reportedly ordered to pay a sum of £2,100 in costs.

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Maung Aye
Maung is a partner in our Corporate and Commercial department. He joined Mackrell Turner Garrett following corporate law positions in London and in a leading regional firm in Essex. Maung read European Legal Studies at Lancaster University and the Università degli Studi di Trento and is a fluent Italian speaker.