The 3rd Panel of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) has rejected an appeal filed by a chocolate manufacturer in the State of Santa Catarina that sought to prevent another company from the State of São Paulo from using the “FRANZ” sign as a trademark in the meat and dairy products sector.
The Santa Catarina company, incorporated in 1995, demanded the cancellation of the “FRANZ ALIMENTOS” trademark registration owned by the São Paulo company, which was incorporated only in 1996, claiming it had anteriority rights over its corporate name and the right of precedence in the exclusive use of the “FRANZ” expression in its area of business.
The decision of the STJ highlighted the fact that both companies explored different business segments and that the principle of specialty should be applied to the case, stressing that identical or similar trademarks can coexist provided that each one identifies goods or services that are sufficiently distinct and incapable of creating any confusion or false association.
The rapporteur of the case also concluded that anteriority over a corporate name may only hinder the use or registration of an identical or similar trademark in the same field of activity when there is geographic coincidence in the exploitation of such activities or when the older corporate name is duly extended to the whole national territory.
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