Cafe in Portugal

Denied Café Ritz trademark application rejected by Lisbon court

By James Wan

What you need to know (in a nutshell)

  1. In August 2021, the Portuguese Patent and Trademark Office refused an application to register CAFÉ RITZ as a Portuguese trademark due to the likelihood of confusion with prior well-known RITZ logos and trademarks.
  2. The IP Court and Lisbon Court of Appeal confirmed the PTO’s decision. The Court of Appeal clarified that the conflicting signs were confusingly similar for consumers, especially considering RITZ’s well-known character and family of trademarks.
  3. The services at stake were deemed similar, and the applicants’ arguments about Café Ritz’s alleged seniority and location were considered irrelevant to the assessment.

Full Article

In August 2021, the Portuguese Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied an application to register CAFE RITZ as a trademark, citing a likelihood of confusion with pre-existing, well-known logos and trademarks owned by Hotel Ritz SA and The Ritz Hotel Limited. This decision was subsequently reaffirmed by both the IP Court and the Lisbon Court of Appeal on February 17, 2022, before being published in the Portuguese IP Journal on October 25, 2022. The courts’ evaluations determined that the services in question were sufficiently similar, increasing the possibility of confusion among average consumers.

The applicants submitted their request on April 6, 2021, seeking registration for the bar service under class 43, with no oppositions filed against it. However, upon review, the PTO provisionally concluded that there was a similarity between the conflicting signs, primarily stemming from the shared element “Ritz,” while the remaining words lacked distinctiveness. This similarity increased the likelihood of consumer confusion, further compounded by the enhanced protection afforded to the well-known mark. As a result, the PTO confirmed the refusal on August 20th of the same year, despite the applicant’s rebuttal asserting dissimilarity based on factors such as seniority or location, which were deemed irrelevant to the assessment’s outcome.

Upon appeal, the ruling was upheld again, taking into account the recognition given to the Parisian hotel group chain, which possesses a distinct brand identity and the pre-existing popularity associated with the previously mentioned logo. Consequently, the challenge posed by the applicant proved unsuccessful, though the possibility remains open for introducing new evidence capable of refuting the conclusion reached thus far. If such evidence is presented through appropriate channels as outlined in existing laws governing these matters. In that case, the desired trademark status may be attainable, provided the necessary requirements are met. In turn, this could allow those involved to reap commercial benefits, such as increased visibility and the numerous advantages that come with it, enabling them to capitalise on the situation to the fullest extent allowed by regulations and ultimately determine their future trajectory in terms of potential gains.