Lionel Messi shoots and scores in trade mark dispute

Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi has prevailed in a lengthy trade mark dispute to register his name.

The footballer first applied to trade mark his surname ‘Messi’ as a logo under sportswear and footwear equipment in 2011. The logo application which consisted of an emblem with the letter ‘M’ and the footballer’s name ‘Messi’ underneath, was soon opposed by Spanish cycling brand ‘Massi’, who argued that the footballer’s logo mark would cause confusion amongst consumers.

Cycling company Massi was initially successful in challenging the footballer’s application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2013. By return, footballer Messi unsuccessfully appealed the EUIPO’s decision in 2014 and thereafter took the matter to the General Court of the European Union. The General Court sided with Messi, stating that the footballer’s high status profile was large enough for the average consumer not to confuse his surname with the cycling company’s name ‘Massi’ who later appealed this decision.

Last week, the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg upheld the General Court’s decision and ruled in favour of the footballer who can now proceed with registering his ‘M Messi’ logo mark.

Whilst it is a common misconception that a person’s name cannot be trade marked, a trade mark that is used mainly as a surname has the potential of being registered if the mark has acquired distinctiveness through use.

If you have any questions relating to this article, or wish to get a word or logo trade mark registered, contract the Trademarkroom today.

Sena Tokel

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