BiG and EuroBic in EU war over trademark
Two Portuguese banks are at war over the right of one to use a trademark which the other says is too similar to its own.
Banco BIC decided to change its commercial name to EuroBic but a Portuguese court ruled that the similarity was too great with that of the name of a rival national bank BiG.
Now the two financial institutions are in a battle of wills over the right to use the brand and the dispute has spilled over to the European Union’s Institute of Intellectual Property.
In February, the institute refused to register the brand EuroBic for use within the European Community for the bank’s debit and credit cards and bank services.
The decision could prevent the bank, led by former finance minister Teixeira dos Santos, to effectively exist in the EU area under its name.
Two years ago, Banco BIC was ordered to change its brand name after a Lisbon court ruled in favour of BiG over the question of image and name similarities between the brands that it decided would confuse customers.
Forced to comply with the court’s decision, BIC changed its name to EuroBic from June 2017, a name which Teixeira dos Santos classified as “not able to be confused with any other brand.”
This change never really satisfied the ambitions of BiG, which continued to see redundancies between the two trademarks, arguing that the prefix of the word “Euro” did not substantially change market perception and that the brands, according to BiG, would continue to confuse clients.
In January 2018, BIC registered the name EuroBic with the National Institute of Industrial Property and in May this year got the green light from that entity to use the brand in Portugal at a cost of €2.5 million.
At the same time (January 2018), BIC also applied to register the EuroBIC brand with EUIPO (EU Intellectual Property Institute). In February this year that body ruled in favour of the complaints from rival BiG by refusing to authorise the use of the EuroBIG name on credit and debit cards and other services.
The reason given was the “risk of confusion — both visual and auditory — between the two brands and trademarks among customers and potential customers of the two institutions.”
EuroBic is appealing against these decisions stated an official source of the bank led by Teixeira dos Santos.