De Smaak Van: protecting trade names and domain names
De Smaak Van (in English, ‘The Taste Of’) is a company based in Almelo, the Netherlands which has been in business since 2007. The company has launched legal proceedings at the Overijssel District Court against the trade name De smaak van Twente ('The Taste of Twente'). Both companies are engaged in culinary activities. The plaintiff has already established that there is a risk of confusion among the public.
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Trade Name Act, the judge will investigate whether the trade name De smaak van Twente is deceptively similar to the trade name De Smaak Van. In doing so, the judge will consider the nature of the companies, where they operate and whether there is a risk of confusion among the public.
According to the preliminary relief judge (December 18 2013), the plaintiff proved that it used the trade name De Smaak Van. It also proved that it was already using this trade name before the defendant began using its trade name. The judge was of the opinion that the trade name De smaak van Twente was deceptively similar to the trade name De Smaak Van. As both companies are engaged in the organisation of culinary events and the provision of business gifts and Christmas hampers, and their activities all take place in the region of Twente, the judge felt that there was a risk of confusion.
The websites 'desmaakvantwente.nl' and 'smaakvantwente.nl' also infringed the trade name.
Therefore, the preliminary relief judge accepted the plaintiff's request that all use of the trade name De smaak van Twente for culinary activities cease. This also meant that the websites could no longer continue to operate under the relevant domain names. In view of the requirement set out in Article 5 of the Trade Name Act that the place of business play a role in establishing the risk of confusion, this was included in a regional trade name case for the plaintiff.
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