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The Court of Appeal has dismissed a hotel company’s trademark application for the letter ‘W.’

MANILA — A trademark claim concerning the use of the letter “W” against a real estate corporation has been dismissed by the Court of Appeals (CA).

“To do otherwise would be to allow the petitioner a monopoly over the letter W,” the appellate court wrote in a 15-page judgment dated April 29 by the CA’s Fifth Division, issued by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr., which affirmed the IPO’s ruling in the case.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, LLC, which utilizes a trademark with a conspicuous letter “W” on top of the word “Hotels,” filed the lawsuit.

This is a confusing similarity to the trademark of Oceanic Empire Limited, a real estate corporation that filed an application for the registration of its trademark “W Global Center” on June 19, 2015.

The CA upheld the IPO Director General’s ruling against the hotel operator on June 22.

“No one has the exclusive right to use any of the letters in the English alphabet for all goods and services,” the tribunal stated.

The IPO DG overturned the IPO Bureau of Legal Affairs’ decision (IPO-BLA).

“Being a single letter and displayed in standard type, the petition’s “W” word mark plainly lacks uniqueness,” the CA noted, adding that “the use of the “W” word mark can hardly be recognized as highly identifiable with the petitioner’s products and services alone.”

Starwood stated that the “W Global Center” trademark was challenging and covered a wide range of real estate matters, including its hotel services.

According to the CA, the petitioner does not even own a hotel in the Philippines that displays the W marks and is open to the public.

Its business entails the global operation of hotels and resorts, especially in the luxury and upmarket segments of the lodging industry, and it caters to clients that require temporary or short-term lodging.

The CA observed that administrative agency conclusions of fact, such as the IPO’s, “are normally afforded high respect, if not finality, by the courts, as long as they are supported by substantial evidence, even if such evidence may not be overwhelming,” in maintaining the IPO’s judgment in the case.

“They are in a better position to render judgment on things falling under their jurisdiction because of their unique knowledge and skill,” the tribunal stated.

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