Twitter wins S’pore court fight to stop start-up from registering similar bird logo
Social media giant Twitter, which uses the likeness of a bird - usually blue - as its logo, has won a legal fight to stop a local technology firm from registering a bird logo as its trademark.
The High Court on Wednesday found that a significant proportion of consumers are likely to be confused due to the two logos being visually and conceptually similar.
Judicial Commissioner Goh Yihan dismissed an appeal by tech start-up V V Technology against the decision of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) to refuse the registration of its trademark.
V V Technology, which is part of a group of three companies, with the two others based in China, had applied to register the logo, depicting a yellow bird in flight, on Sept 10, 2018.
It said it chose the logo “given that symbolic parallels could be drawn between a hummingbird, which is nimble given its small size but also capable of travelling great distances, and the (company), which is committed to being responsive to market demand and to the wide-ranging needs of the communities it serves”.
The company, which had been developing a mobile app meant to serve as a user’s personal concierge, had intended for the logo to be prominently displayed at the bottom of the mobile phone screen when the app is being used.
After the mark was published for opposition purposes on May 24, 2019, Twitter filed its notice of opposition on Sept 24, 2019, relying on its prior registration for its mark.
Since its founding in 2006, the microblogging and social networking platform has used a variety of bird logos in connection to its good and services.
In March 2022, Ipos found that Twitter had succeeded in establishing the ground of opposition that the competing marks are similar and that there is likelihood of confusion arising from the similarities.
V V Technology then appealed to the High Court.
It contended the two competing marks depicted different types of birds - a hummingbird versus Twitter’s mountain bluebird, which are in different orientations.
It also argued that the angular depiction of a hummingbird, with its long, pointed beak and its thin, V-shaped body and sharply pointed wings, made its logo distinctive.
But these supposed differences were rejected by the judicial commissioner.
He agreed with Twitter that the general shape of both marks is of a “two-dimensional, side profile of a small bird with curvilinear features, swept back wings opening out and up behind the bird’s head, a pointed tail curved outward, as well as a pointed beak”.
The judicial commissioner said the assessment of the similarity of the logos should not be focused on “pedantic stylistic dissimilarities based on a side-by-side comparison of the marks”.
“In real life, consumers simply do not analyse and remember the various minute details of the marks. As such, while it is true that the differences listed by the applicant may be evident from a detailed side-by-side comparison, these differences are, when viewed holistically, ultimately trivial,” he said.
He added that there was a likelihood of confusion arising from V V Technology’s logo being perceived as a new iteration of Twitter’s logo or as a modified mark that Twitter was using for related services.