The word « BIO » means « life » in Greek and is understood by most people in the world as the root of the word « biologic ». Often considered as a synonym of “good” and “healthy”, it brought amazing success to the “BIO” sign over recent years.
However, after reaching a summit of popularity, this term’s usefulness is now in decline.
The intensive use of the word “BIO” has led to a decrease in the trademark’s distinctiveness and has thereby given to confusion between trademarks using the “BIO” sign.
In France alone, more than 4,800 valid trademarks contain the sign “BIO”. If around 1,400 of those products concern the food industry (1,425 registries in class 30 and 1,035 in class 31), it is increasingly used by other products such as pharmaceuticals (class 5 with 1,311 registries) or cosmetics and cleaning products (class 3 with 1,317 registries).
This trend is confirmed in all other countries (The European Union has 7,800 valid trademarks, the USA 3600).
Australia is a flagrant example of this phenomenon: 2,300 marks include the word “BIO” and 90% of them use it as a prefix.
In such a context, the trademarks are difficult to defend.
For example, the German Federal Patent Court has recently ruled on the similarity of two trademarks, both sharing the same “BIO” prefix: « BIONSEN » and « BIOPHEN ». Even if it didn’t emphasize the “BIO” element, the Court ruled that the later mark, BIOPHEN, was to be removed from registration.