Trade mark confusion represents a major problem in the marketplace. A trade mark is a key element which stands your business apart from its competitors. Therefore, it’s important to carry out checks to ensure that there are no marks already in existence that would be confusingly similar. Should there be one and the services or goods in question are sufficiently similar to confuse customers and make them believe they’re the same business, whether in terms of meaning, appearance or sound, there is a conflict.

Factors That Induce Confusion

There are several factors that can cause trade mark confusion. These include:

  • Similarity of marks – even adding prefixes, changing letters or adding further information may not be sufficient to avoid trade mark confusion. Some examples of marks that were found to be confusing include Zirco vs Cozirc and Maternally Yours vs Your Maternity Shop.
  • Similarity of appearance – when marks look too alike in their design and appearance they can be confusing. Some examples of this include Miltron and Milltronics and Newports and Newport.
  • Similarity of sound – when brands are a close phonetic match they can be confusing. For example Cresco vs Kressco and Seycos vs Seiko.
  • Similarity of meaning – when brands are too similar in terms of their meaning relating to the description of their services or goods e.g. Mr Clean vs Mr Rust and Pledge vs Promise.

Trade Mark Confusion – What Happens If It Exists?

If two similar marks exist, the owner of the existing trade mark is notified. It is then their responsibility to decide whether they will object to the application from the newcomer. The Trade Mark Registry in the UK doesn’t prevent another applicant from registering their trade mark even if it is exactly the same as an existing mark and will be used for the identical services and goods.

Protecting Trade Marks From Confusion

It’s therefore important for the owner of an existing registered trade mark to police its use by keeping a close eye on all applications being filed by third parties. When any potentially confusing areas are flagged up, it’s possible to nip those potential problems in the bud before they get out of hand.