If you say the word “Jägermeister” or “Jager”, many people can readily conjure up the image of the green bottle. The actual formulation is a trade secret. The German liquor possesses a very distinct taste and smell readily remembered by those who drank it. Their logo of a stag head is readily recognizable, at least among those partaking in the beverage.
Mast-Jägermeister SE (“Mast”) owns multiple trademarks for the Jägermeister brand. The marks include good and services from liquors and beverages to clothing items. These trademarks include word marks as well as numerous design marks featuring the stag head. Examples of which are shown below:
Chiu’s application cites the goods and services as “paper cups; plastic cups; drinking straws of paper; drinking straws of plastic; coffee cups; mugs; drinking vessels; beverage ware” in class 021. Chiu alleges use in commerce back to 2018. Several of Mast’s marks, including those using variations of the stag head design, registered well before Chiu’s use date.
Chui owns a registered mark for the same design logo for “restaurant and café services; tea bars; teahouse services; coffee and tea bars” in class 043. Mast has not filed a cancellation proceeding against the registered trademark.
Mast alleges a likelihood of confusion given the similarity between the marks and goods sold. Further, Mast alleges deception. Specifically, given the widespread use and fame of its marks, consumers may purchase Chiu’s products erroneously thinking there is an association between Mast and Chiu. Mast also alleges dilution of the distinctive quality of its marks if Chiu’s mark registers.
The Examiner for Chiu’s mark did not cite any of Mast’s marks against them. However, this is not dispositive of a lack of likelihood of confusion. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will weigh the evidence presented by both sides and evaluate the similarity of the marks using the Dupont factors.
In a likelihood of confusion case, the important consideration is whether an ordinary consumer would be confused as to the source of the goods. Even if the goods and services are dissimilar, there can be a finding of a likelihood of confusion. Further, famous marks enjoy a broader scope of protection than non-famous marks. In determining fame, one must consider the inherent strength based on the mark itself as well as its commercial strength based on marketplace recognition. Chiu has until March 15th to file their response. Stay tuned folks.
The word mark is likely considered famous.