Seoul National University defeats Uber in patent fight.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has ruled in favor of Seoul National University's (SNU) self-driving car SNUver, claiming the name does not infringe upon the U.S. ride-sharing company Uber's trademark rights.
Last December, the KIPO approved SNU R and DB Foundation's request to list SNUver as an official trademark, claiming that the title is not similar to Uber, therefore no confusion or misconceptions are expected.
As soon as SNU applied for SNUver's trademark in July 2016, ride-sharing service UBER filed two complaints against the university, claiming the title infringes upon its Uber trademark, and called on the institution to halt its use of the name. UBER also raised a formal objection with the KIPO.
SNU rebutted UBER's claim by emphasizing that SNUver is derived from "SNU Automated Drive." "We chose the name SNUver as it is friendly and easy to pronounce, we did not bear in mind Uber's trademark," said SNU.
"There is a difference in the type and shape of the characters," said the KIPO."There are also differences in the number of syllables and the sound of the first syllable, which differentiates the overall sound."
"SNUver is neither a coined word nor does it have a specific meaning in the dictionary," said the KIPO. "There are no reasons for us to reject it as a trademark."
SNUver is a self-driving car first developed by the university's research team in November 2015. SNUver is a compound of SNU and driver, but foreigners and many local media have mistakenly called it SNUber.