The developer of hit mobile game Angry Birds has lost a legal bid in Singapore to stop a Malaysian snack food firm from calling its chips "Angry Bite" here.
Kimanis Food Industries admitted being inspired by Finnish software developer Rovio Entertainment's franchise.
However, a trademark registrar ruled: "Being inspired per se does not amount to copying."
Ms Sandy Widjaja, principal assistant registrar of trademarks, said in judgment grounds released last week: "Being 'inspired' is simply the starting point. Not everything inspired by an existing work is necessarily objectionable."
She said that to decide otherwise "would be to give excessive protection" to owners of registered trademarks.
Noting it is common to have "lookalikes" in the marketplace, she made clear the issue would turn on the particular facts of each case weighed against the provisions of the Trade Marks Act.
Kimanis applied to protect its product name in April 2012, but Rovio launched a bid to block it several months later.
It argued that Angry Bite is similar to two marks which it had already registered here - one of which was the face of a bird and the other was the words "Angry Birds". Its lawyer, Ms Tasneem Haq, said there was a likelihood of confusion if Angry Bite was registered as a trademark.
Angry Birds was released in December 2009 as an iPhone game in Apple's App Store. Two years later, it had been downloaded more than 350 million times worldwide.
The company also has several licensees which produce snack food and food products under the Angry Birds brand range.
Kimanis was established in 1987 and produces 40 successful snack products. Its Angry Bite chips are currently sold in Singapore.
It argued through its lawyer, Mr Paul Teo, that the marks were not similar and countered that Rovio had not shown that its interests are likely to be damaged by the use of "Angry Bite".
Ms Widjaja said she was "hard pressed" to find similarity between the rival marks. She pointed out that Angry Bite was a composite made up of several elements that included the bird figure and words in a single trademark, whereas Angry Birds comprised two separate marks - the bird's face and the words "Angry Birds".
She added that Rovio had failed to show there was a reasonable likelihood of confusion and did not show its two marks were well-known to the public at large in Singapore, based on the evidence tendered.
This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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