UK: UK Intellectual Property Office Tells Phillip Morris No On TM Cancellation Ordered To Pay £800 Costs – How Will They Afford It !

Philip Morris International has failed in its efforts to have a UK e-cigarette maker’s trademark cancelled, after the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said it had failed to prove the reputation of its ‘IQOS’ product.

‘IQOS’ is a tobacco heating system which generates nicotine-containing vapour, but does not burn or release smoke. Philip Morris promotes the product as a safer, but not risk-free, alternative to traditional cigarettes.

The company has a range of trademarks for the brand, including international, UK, and EU registrations.

Last April, Philip Morris filed at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for the cancellation of UK company All Vape’s trademark for its ‘QIS’ e-cigarette brand, claiming it was too similar to ‘IQOS’.

All Vape’s ‘QIS’ mark, registered at the IPO in 2018, covers goods including e-cigarettes and related products such as chargers, cartridges, and liquids.

The company’s website does not list any products under the ‘QIS’ brand, but advertises e-cigarette hardware for sale under the alternative spelling of ‘QYS’.

The UK company, which was founded in 2017, said there was no similarity between its mark and that of Philip Morris, and challenged the tobacco company to prove its claimed reputation in the ‘vaping cigarette’ market.

According to the IPO, Philip Morris failed to do so, having not provided any sales figures for its IQOS products in the UK.

The tobacco giant operates a series of dedicated retail outlets for the IQOS brand in London, Manchester, and Bristol.

But the IPO examiner said they could not reach any conclusions about the brand’s commercial success in the UK, or to what extent the British public were aware of it, based on Philip Morris’ evidence.

The tobacco company had provided global figures for market share for the ‘IQOS’ brand, as well as its total value in US dollars, but did not submit any figures on UK turnover, or any evidence of “actual sales in the UK”.

As Philip Morris could not prove any enhanced distinctiveness of its mark through use in the UK, the opposition failed. The IPO examiner did not consider there to be any similarities between the marks that would cause confusion among consumers.

Philip Morris was instructed to pay £800 ($978) towards All Vape’s legal costs.