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28 February 2020Big PharmaEdward Pearcey

UK firm successfully challenges ‘Vagisan’ TM in Singapore

UK-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Comb International, owner of the ‘ Vagisil’ trademark, has successfully challenged the ‘ Vagisan’ trademark at the Intellectual Property Office Singapore ( IPOS).

IPOS, in a decision published on Friday, February 28, cited several reasons for declaring the Vagisan application invalid, all centred around the “above average degree” of visual and aural similarity between the trademarks and the possibility of imperfect recollection of the branding among consumers.

The Vagisan trademark is owned by Dr August Wolff GmbH & Co KG Arzneimittel, a Germany-based provider and developer of specialty pharmaceutical products.

“On visual similarity, the principal assistant registrar (PAR) considered the prefix ‘vagi’ to be a weak element in the mark, as it is likely to be recognised as a shortening of the word “vagina” and as indicating the intended treatment area of the goods,” said the decision.

“This being so, the distinctiveness of the applicant’s trademark lies in the way the prefix ‘vagi’ is conjoined with a three-letter suffix starting with the letter ‘s’,” continued the statement.

“In view that this distinctiveness is captured in the trademark, and because the competing marks coincide in most letters, as well as in their structure and number of letters, the PAR found the marks similar to an above average degree,” said the decision.

With regard to aural similarity, the PAR considered the overall phonetic impression produced by the trademarks, “which is influenced by the number and sequence of its syllables, and the rhythm and intonation of the marks, and found the trademarks similar to an above average degree”, said IPOS.

On a consumer level, “the possibility of indirect confusion still exists (for example, that consumers may think that the goods come from sources that are economically linked or associated). Furthermore, even consumers paying a higher degree of attention need to rely on their imperfect recollection of [trademarks]”, continued the IPOS statement.

“The PAR therefore allowed the application, and declared the registration of ‘Vagisan’ to be invalid,” said an IPOS statement.

Both companies have been contacted for further comment.

Both Vagisan and Vagisil are medicated creams, used to reduce dryness and irritation.

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