World Intellectual Property Organization

Can I register or use a mark that sounds the same as an existing mark but looks different?

If you are trying to register a mark that sounds the same as a mark already registered, the Trademark Office of your country will take a decision as to whether your proposed mark is confusingly similar to the existing mark. If the Office is convinced that the goods or services in question are often ordered orally, there is a certain likelihood that the Office will reject your application provided that it examines on its own initiative as to whether the application conflicts with prior third party rights or, where this is not the case, upon a corresponding request in opposition proceedings. If you are using such a mark without registration, the owner of the registered mark may take legal action against your use of that mark on the basis that your mark is confusingly similar to his mark and, as such, your use is an attempt to "pass off" your mark as his. The corresponding decision is generally taken by a court in infringement proceedings on the merits of the case. Where the conditions are fulfilled, provisional measures may be ordered in many countries by the court even without hearing the other party.

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