Moscow Confectionery Factory ‘Krasnyiy oktyabr’ - a subsidiary of part-Russian state owned group United Confectioners - has been contesting Roshen’s ‘Crabs’ trademark registration for four years.
In 2013, Roshen filed two applications to trademark a red, yellow and white design for a brand named Crabs, for confectionery, caramels and candy: One horiztonal design and another with a vertical line of crabs.
Red October filed opposition to both trademarks a year later. It claimed Roshen’s proposed marks infringed its own mark for “sweetmeats [candy]” registered in 2011, which features a crayfish design in red, white and black.
Low likelihood of confusion, says EU court
The Opposition Division of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) rejected Red October's opposition to both Roshen trademarks in 2015.
Red October then appealed to the First Board of Appeal of EUIPO. Its claim against Roshen's horizontal crab design was dismissed, but the appeal court accepted its claim against Roshen's verticals crabs design and annuled the mark.
Red October again appealed the decision regarding the horizontal crab design to The European General Court, while Roshen appealed the decision to annul the vertical crabs mark.
The European General Court yesterday upheld earlier rulings by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and dissmised both appeals.
The court said there was a low likelihood of confusion between Red October’s ‘sweetmeats’ mark and Roshen’s horizontal crab mark.
However, it upheld the First Board of Appeal of EUIPO's decision to annul the vertical crabs design mark.
United Confectioners was ordered to pay costs for its failed horizontal crab appeal, while Roshen was ordered to pay costs for its failed vertical crabs appeal.
Candy, trademarks and politics
Kiev-headquartered Roshen is owned by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. He said he would sell the company if elected president, but a sale has not materialized.
It came amid another trademark lawsuit between Roshen and United Confectioners.
United Confectioners initiated legal proceedings against Roshen in 2010 for allegedly infringing its trademark on former Soviet brand “Lastochka”. An appeal court in 2012 ordered Roshen to pay RUB 212 million ($5.8m) and Roshen said it had stopped production of its Lastochka-Pevunya brand.
United Confectioners is the market leader in Russian chocolate confectionery with a 21% market share, while Roshen leads in chocolate in Ukraine with a 32% value share, according to Euromonitor International.