Judge fails to be swayed over mistaken identity

IPC’s teenage girls’ title Mizz can share the newsagents’ shelves with US feminist magazine Ms, a trademarks court has ruled.

The Trademarks Registry has ruled there is nothing to bar both titles from being registered as trademarks for magazines.

Liberty Media for Women LLC, which has used the Ms name for feminist periodicals since 1972, had sought to block IPC from registering the Mizz name as a trademark for “magazines for teenage girls and young women” and for “electronic publications in magazine format”, such as a website.

IPC, which launched Mizz in 1985, tried to stop Liberty from registering its Ms name as a trademark for “periodical magazines for women”.

However, the registry has opened the way for the two titles to be sold on the same newsagent shelves by ruling that there is no likelihood of confusion in the buying public.

Backing the ruling of a hearing officer last summer, a trade marks judge said: “In my view, Ms conveys a rather staid image whereas Mizz conjures up something altogether zanier in relation to the products.

“Liberty says they chose Ms as a title for their magazine because they considered it to provide an image that suggested its female-centred focus. The use of a title to convey an image, be it related to the subject matter of the magazine or the intended readership, is commonly used by publishers.

“It is not surprising that publications may be available under similar names.

Publishers must be aware of this circumstance and accept that they run the risk of some limited confusion arising.”

“Notwithstanding this, it would appear that the consumer is well able to distinguish one title from another.”

He did not discount the possibility that some feminist-minded teenagers might be interested in picking up both magazines.

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