Naples may well be the capital of pizza, but recently the IP Court of the famous Italian city judged on the distinctiveness of the word “Ham” for identifying an Italian Hamburger franchise.
The applicant, owner of the trademark “HAM HOLY BURGER” and of the corresponding domain name and website learned that a competitor (Ham S.r.l.) had started selling quality meat under the (figurative) trademark “HAM”, through the website “ham-burger.it”.
Ham Srl argued that its project preceded the applicant’s trademark application and stated that the “HAM HOLY BURGER” trademark was descriptive and thus weak and, in any case, that there was no likelihood of confusion between the signs.
In the Court’s view the word “ham” is generally known by the large Italian public – even to that part of the population the part that is not familiar with the English language – as it is the first part of the word “hamburger”, a term commonly used in the Italian language to indicate a patty of pressed beef. The term “ham”, in other words, would not so much evoke a cut of hog meat (for those who know English), but rather, hamburgers, for most consumers. Therefore, in a trademark such as “HAM HOLY BURGER”, cannot not be granted any exclusive protection. Consequently there is also no risk of confusion between the signs of the two competitors.