The dispute surrounding the mark “HORIZON” in Singapore

The dispute surrounding the mark “HORIZON” in Singapore, Problems about the "HORIZON" trademark, HORIZON, HUMAN HORIZONS,

The dispute surrounding the mark “HORIZON” in Singapore

“HUMAN HORIZONS” and “HORIZON” are really similar and it makes people think that they are from the same company. However, the problem is that it is not. The 2 marks are actually from different companies – technology company Human Horizons Holdings Co., Ltd. (HUMAN HORIZONS) and Louis Vuitton Malletier (HORIZON), thus creating the dispute surrounding the mark “HORIZON” in Singapore.

Although the technology company Human Horizons Holdings Co., Ltd. has the word “Human Horizons” as its company name, now they face the possibility that they can’t even register that name as a trademark.

This is because previously, Louis Vuitton Malletier – a famous fashion company has already successfully registered the trademark “HORIZON.”

When learning that some company is registering the mark “HUMAN HORIZONS”, LV has quickly filed its opposition and, successfully oppose the registration of the mark. 

The opposition succeeded under Sections 8(2)(b), 8(4)(a) and (b)(i) and 8(7)(a) of Singapore’s Trade Marks Act.

Problems about the “HORIZON” trademark

Human Horizons Holdings, which transferred its trademark ownership to Human Horizons Holding (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. on June 24, 2021, applied to register the mark in Singapore on October 15, 2018, in Classes 18 and 25.

If the companies register in any other class, they might have successfully registered that trademark. 

However, class 18 is different because LV has also filed its trademark application for the “HORIZON” trademark, in respect of luggage and leatherware.

To be clarified, class 18 includes leather laces, traveling trunks, key cases, wallets incorporating card holders, luggage tags, leather, unworked or semi-worked, among others.

Louis Vuitton has successfully opposed the registration of the trademark “HUMAN HORIZONS” after it was deemed that, under Section 8(2)(b), “HUMAN HORIZONS” is similar to “HORIZON” and that the goods in questions are also highly similar. 

IP Adjudicator Adrian Tan Gim Hai concluded there is a reasonable likelihood that consumers may be confused about the origin and connections between the 2 marks. 

If the mark “HUMAN HORIZONS” is successfully registered, the consumers may believe that both trademarks are from the same business entity or from sources that are linked or associated commercially and that the “HUMAN HORIZONS” product line is a sub-brand under “HORIZON.”

Expert opinions

Although the case has come to a close, there are still many opinions that disagreed with the final decision because there are still many grounds to prove that the 2 marks are not similar, or not similar enough to confuse the public.

For example, George Hwang, director of George Hwang in Singapore, has stated his opinion about the dispute, expressing that there are many other aspects that can prove the dissimilarities between the 2 marks: “In our view, two of three factors have been considered to be dissimilar – visual and conceptual. For visual similarities, it was decided that ‘there is a low degree of visual similarity between the two marks.’ The reason given was that of the two words in the mark ‘HUMAN HORIZONS,’ ‘HORIZON’ is not more prominent than the word ‘HUMAN.’ For conceptual similarities, it was decided that the applicant’s mark refers more to the limits of human beings’ knowledge and experience, whilst the opponent’s mark refers more to the junction between earth and sky.”

Hwang added: “For aural similarity, we do not agree with the reasoning of the hearing officer. Just because 100% of the opponent’s mark is found in the applicant’s mark, we should not conclude that they sound similar. Regardless of the approaches – Quantitative or Dominant Component, we should give more weightage to how the two marks sound when spoken by Singaporeans i.e., with a Singaporean accent. Certain alphabets are muted in the pronunciation of a word or string of words. The number of syllables and how a reader pronounces them also impacts on their rhythm and rhyme, hence, their similarities.”

*** Other Articles***

– You could visit here to see Procedure of Singapore Trademark Registration.

– You could visit here to check the required documents for filing trademark in Singapore

– You can also check the Fee of Trademark In Singapore here.

–  You could check how to register trademark in Singapore here.

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