CSIRO beats Cisco in fight over logo

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CSIRO beats Cisco in fight over logo

Not that similar, trademark office finds.

Australia's peak science and research organisation has successfully beaten down an attempt by technology giant Cisco to stop it from registering its logo as a trademark.

In 2012, the CSIRO lodged an application with Australia's trademark office to register its distinctive logo.

However, Cisco took issue with the registration later that year, claiming the CSIRO logo was markedly similar to its own.

At a hearing in February this year, Cisco representative Angela Stark argued that the Cisco logo - a series of vertical stripes representing the Golden Gate Bridge - had been in place in various forms since the company's inception in 1984.

A rebranding of the logo in 2006 resulted in the current iteration seen today.

"[The logo] is a valuable asset to Cisco, and is considered one of the most valuable brands in the world," Stark argued, pointing out that it maintained a top 20 position in the world's top 100 brands as ranked by consultancy InterBrand, currently coming in at number 14.

Representatives from the CSIRO similarly argued that the science and research organisation enjoyed great recognition in Australia.

Its logo is made up of a series of vertical stripes representing a map of Australia.

"Results [from a 2010 Ogilvy Illumination report] showed that the [CSIRO] is the first mentioned organisation doing science and research in Australia for 73 percent of respondents," they argued.

However, the trademark office ultimately disregarded both arguments in favour of discerning whether the two trademarks were deceptively similar in appearance.

It found that Australians were likely to recognise the separate logos as representative of the particular icon each was attempting to convey.

"[The CSIRO logo] is likely to be recognised by virtually all Australians as a stylised rendition of the outline of the continent in which they live," the trademark office ruled.

"Similarly, the device component of [Cisco's logo] bears a marked resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran​cisco. That bridge is of iconic status and as such is likely to be recognised by many Australians."

The office similarly found that it was "most unlikely" an invididual would be confused by the similarity in letters - CISCO and CSIRO - used in the logos.

"'Cisco’ is immediately recognisable as a short-form for the words ‘San Francisco’. The juxtaposition within [Cisco's logo] of the word ‘Cisco’ with the abstract rendering of the Golden Gate Bridge lends reinforcement to the significance and denotation of the other and is likely to be perceived as such," the trademark office found.

While the logos were composed of similar elements, they were "unlikely to be confused".

"As a consequence, there is no significant likelihood of confusion and deception and the Opponent has not established its ground under section 44 of the Act," the office ruled.

Cisco was awarded to pay the CSIRO's costs.

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