Relative grounds for trademark invalidity refer to situations where a trademark conflicts with an existing trademark or other prior rights, such as copyright or trade name. These conflicts can make a trademark invalid or unenforceable.
In most countries, the relative grounds for invalidity include:
- Earlier trademarks: If a trademark is identical or similar to an earlier registered trademark or an earlier applied-for trademark, and the goods or services covered by the marks are also similar or identical, the later trademark may be invalid or unenforceable.
- Bad faith: If a trademark is applied for in bad faith, for example, to take advantage of an existing reputation, the trademark may be invalid or unenforceable.
- Likelihood of Confusion: If the registered trademark is likely to cause confusion among consumers regarding the origin of the goods or services, it may be subject to invalidation. Factors such as the similarity of the trademarks, the similarity of the goods or services, and the likelihood of confusion in the relevant market are typically considered.
- Descriptive or Generic Nature: If the registered trademark is merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents, or if it has become a generic term commonly used to refer to those goods or services, it may be invalidated. Trademarks should be distinctive and not merely descriptive or generic.