The Mozambican Trade Mark Registry recently issued a ruling in favour of Whirlpool Properties Inc. (“the Opponent”) in an opposition matter relating to the registration of the trade mark WESTPOOL logo (reflected below) in class 11, filed by Mozambique Commercial LDA (“the Applicant”).
The Applicant is based in Manica, a market town in Mozambique, where it trades as a wholesaler of a variety of goods. The Opponent is the international proprietor of the well-known trade mark WHIRLPOOL and one of the top major appliance manufacturers in the world, offering a wide range of home, kitchen and laundry appliances and products. In Mozambique the Opponent owns the word mark WHIRLPOOL , as well as the very well-known WHIRLPOOL devices, as shown below, all in class 11.
The Applicant applied to register the WESTPOOL mark in relation to “air conditioning and refrigeration appliances”, which clearly overlap with the Opponent’s goods. The Opponent contended that the mark WESTPOOL is simply too close to its WHIRLPOOL mark, especially considering the fact that the Applicant sought registration in relation to the Opponent’s exact goods of interest and in respect of which it has been making use, across the globe, of its WHIRLPOOL trade mark.
The Applicant did not file a counter-statement in response to the opposition and the trade mark registry, in considering the merits, ruled in the Opponent’s favour. As a result, the offending application is deemed to be withdrawn. In the written ruling, the Registrar concludes that there is a potential risk that those who are already aware of the Opponent’s WHIRLPOOL goods and trade marks, may be misled when they encounter the applicant’s WESTPOOL trade mark, thus “defrauding” the distinctive function of the Opponent’s trade mark. The Registrar also indicated that any use of the WESTPOOL mark by the applicant will likely amount to unfair competition, which is an additional basis on which a trade mark application may be refused.