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Exclusive: Rospatent backs Peppa Pig in win for Western brands

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The decision to refuse a trademark application filed by the Wolfoo creator was based on earlier Peppa-pig related trademarks

Russia’s intellectual property office has backed the owner of the Peppa Pig brand in its global dispute with a Vietnamese company over the cartoon swine, Managing IP can reveal.

Rospatent rejected a figurative trademark application for the ‘Wolfoo’ cartoon character, citing four existing Peppa Pig-related trademarks owned by media company Entertainment One (eOne).

SConnect, which is engaged in a lengthy multi-jurisdictional IP battle with eOne, filed the application in question. EOne claims that SConnect’s ‘Wolfoo’, a cartoon depicting a wolf, mimics Peppa Pig.

The decision, seen by Managing IP, was handed down in December last year but has yet to be published.

Rospatent found that eOne’s brands are among the most popular in Russia and have a high level of recognition. The office added that Peppa Pig has increased distinctiveness in the country and that eOne’s trademarks have been used for a long time.

Rospatent initially raised an objection to SConnect’s application on October 6 last year. SConnect responded and argued that the applied-for mark was not confusingly similar to that for Peppa Pig. The application was subsequently rejected outright.

The finding may give comfort to foreign IP owners whose rights in Russia have been uncertain since Russia responded to sanctions imposed by several Western nations after its invasion of Ukraine in February last year. 

It is the second victory eOne has secured in Russia. In June 2022, the Second Appeal Commercial Court confirmed rights for Peppa Pig characters had been infringed.

That ruling, in which SConnect was not involved, overturned a judgment from March 2022 by the Kirov Commercial Court that denied eOne IP protection based on Western sanctions.

However, the appeal court said the Kirov court’s conclusion that any legal entity from a sanctioning country should be deprived of judicial protection and legal interests in Russia was incorrect.

Niall Trainor, London-based senior director for brand protection at eOne, said Western brands can take some comfort from the fact that the appeal court’s precedent remains intact.

Trainor added that the decision also demonstrated that trademark authorities are increasingly willing to look at bad faith at the examination stage.

“The fact that they dismissed SConnect’s appeal submissions in their entirety shows that they could see for themselves that, irrespective of any differences between the trademarks, Wolfoo is clearly intended to mimic the imagery from Peppa Pig in a deliberate attempt to confuse the public.”

The dispute between eOne and SConnect started in January this year when eOne sued SConnect at the England and Wales High Court, alleging copyright and trademark infringement and passing off.

Litigation is also expected in Vietnam where SConnect has been accused of attempting to lobby the government to prevent its videos being removed from YouTube.

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