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Miller Beer Can Coexist With a Similar Spirits’ Brand.

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Trademark collision of similar or identical trademarks held by different companies does not occur if the products and consumers are different, although they may belong to the same market segment. That finding was affirmed by the Fourth Chamber of the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) when deciding that the U.S. company Miller Brewing Company, the MILLER beer producer, can keep using its mark in the country. The appeal was filed by Indústria Müller de Bebidas Ltda., the producer of spirits “MILER” and “MÜLLER FRANCO”. 

Justice Isabel Gallotti stressed that well-known brands, deserve protection in view of their international notoriety, even though not registered. “The law affords special protection to well-known mark, within its field of activity,” she stated.

She added that while both products (beer and spirits) fall in former local Class 35 (which ranges from alcoholic and non-alcoholic substances and even ice to chill drinks), it does not suggest the possibility of confusion for the public. “In case of different products and consumers there is no competition in the market. Nor there should be the right of exclusive use of the sign,” she asserted. 

Specifically to the marks under discussion, the Justice Gallotti noted that Miller beer is well known in the international market. Hence, it would hardly take advantage of another company’s mark or discredit them in any form. In fact, she stated: “On the contrary, I believe that the mark of the defendant [the brewery U.S.] may even encourage the applicant [producer of spirits] with its good image in the market.” 

Based on these arguments, Justice Gallotti concluded that  there was no hindrance to the use of the marks by both companies, as already decided by the Superior Court of Justice on similar cases. The Fourth Chamber voted unanimously. 

Related to: Special Appeal No. 1079344, with  the  Superior Court of Justice:

Source: http://www.stj.gov.br/portal_stj/publicacao/engine.wsp?tmp.area=398&tmp.texto=106618

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