You might have never heard about it, but Maltese fast-food favourite Hugo’s Burger Bar has been involved in a legal battle with a similarly named restaurant group from Germany for two whole years… and it doesn’t seem to be going too well for the local eatery.
Hugo’s Burger has just taken another legal hit in an ongoing trademark war with H’ugo’s, a German restaurant chain specialising in Italian food
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Posted by H'ugo's on Monday, June 24, 2019
When the German opposition appealed Hugo’s initial logo trademarking file back in 2017, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) had ruled in favour of H’ugo’s on grounds of confusion… not to mention that the German brand had already trademarked the very similar name and logo before.
Hugo’s Burger Bar had filed their trademark under Class 29 & 30 marks, which classifies their menu as one consisting of burgers, burger-related items and soft drinks, teas and coffees and the like.
H’ugo’s trademark, on the other hand, is registered with multiple Class 29, 30 & 43 marks extended to include fish, poultry, extracts, and so on… and even allows the operator to function as a means of temporary accommodation (presumably as one of their four German establishments is located inside a beach club).
The contested goods in Class 29 are noted as identical by the report published on the EUIPO’s site, however when it comes to the Class 30 items, they were given a remark of “similar to a low degree.”
With Hugo’s Burger Bar being an establishment that focuses on – well, burgers – you’d think they’d have no trouble overcoming a trademark issue of confusion with a restaurant that offers a full menu of pizzas and perhaps fish as well.
Apparently, the trouble comes from the German company H’ugo’s GmbH, who are worried that people may confuse their visit to Hugo’s Burger Bar in Malta with their time spent in Deutschland at their own restaurants – which does seem a little far-fetched.
The report also details the differences in signage used by the establishments. See if you can spot the difference…
Malta’s burger joint uses a full-on picturesque logo that states it is solely a burger bar, whereas H’ugo’s has a registered logo of their brand’s name.
In the report, EUIPO said of the two marks: “The earlier mark is a word mark consisting of the word ‘H’ugo’s’. The Opposition Division finds that at least a significant part of the relevant public will associate the earlier mark with the possessive form of the name Hugo despite the additional apostrophe after the letter ‘H’. As this word is not descriptive, allusive or otherwise weak in relation to the goods at hand, it is distinctive.”
Continuing on through the article, the EUIPO does say that while confusion is understandable, it is an issue exclusive to the English-speaking sector of the public.
This is due to the name Ugo being of Germanic origin, and so the “likelihood of confusion for only part of the relevant public of the European Union is sufficient to reject the contested application.”
The latest update to the two-year-long saga came on Tuesday, when Hugo’s request to the General Court to annul the EUIPO’s decision was rejected.
As it stands, the Hugo’s group is reportedly exploring alternative options.