MILLESIMA Versus MILLEZIMUS: No Likelihood Of Confusion For Wines, Spirits And Services Of Wine Bars

Author:Dr. Roger Staub and Christoph Caprez

The Federal Administrative Court recently had to decide whether the use of the sign MILLEZIMUS for wines, spirits and services of wine bars resulted in a likelihood of confusion with respect to the trademark MILLESIMA owned by France-based wine mail order merchant MILLÉSIMA S.A.

The wine merchant MILLÉSIMA S.A. owns the international registration MILLESIMA for the goods "Wines of guaranteed label of origin (AOC wines), vins de pays (local or regional wines), liqueurs, all these goods with year of vintage" in international class 33. Multigraphix Sàrl, a Swiss based provider of graphic services, registered the Swiss trademark MILLEZIMUS for, inter alia, "wines and spirits" in international class 33 and "services of wine bars" in international class 43. MILLÉSIMA S.A. initiated opposition proceedings and argued that there exists a likelihood of confusion between the marks in question.

The court dismissed MILLÉSIMA S.A.'s action based on the following arguments.

First, the court dealt with the question of the distinctive nature of the trademark MILLESIMA. MILLESIMA is an adjective of the Latin language and means "thousandth" and is, with the exception of the last letter, identical to the French term "Millésime" (vintage) that has a special meaning for the choice and distinction of wine as, due to weather conditions, one vintage may be substantially different from another. Hence, the distinctive character of the sign for wines is significantly weakened.


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