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Protecting your intellectual property: Messi wins again...(and you can, too)

17 November 2020

The ECJ has recently dismissed an appeal from MASSI, a Spanish cycling company, to uphold the decision that Lionel Messi is able to register his name, “Messi”, as a trade mark.

The law has operated to give a wide meaning to trade marks and has found that they may be words (e.g. KODAK), slogans (e.g. JUST DO IT), letters (e.g. RBS), designs (e.g. a harp for Guinness), internet domain names (e.g. amazon.com), the shape of packaging (e.g. the shape of Toblerone), smells (e.g. the registration by Sumitomo Rubber Industries of floral fragrance applied to tyres), sounds (e.g. the Intel four-note jingle), colours (e.g. Heinz registration of turquoise for their baked beans), gestures (e.g. the Asda double tap on the back pocket) and more.

A registration provides its owner a statutory right to the exclusive use of the mark in connection with his goods or services for which it is registered. Registration gives the owner the right to sue for trade mark infringement against anyone who uses an identical or similar mark without authorisation. The owner will also need to show that the use of another mark has or is likely to cause confusion, except when the marks are identical.

It is this exclusivity that may well give you the edge in a competitive market place, and the knowledge that competitors cannot come along and simply take the benefit of the reputation that you have built up as a brand.

It is worth remembering that your brand is likely to be one of your most valuable commercial assets, and you should protect it.  For example, if you were to sell your business, the prospective purchaser will want to understand the IP protection you have in place.  Furthermore, if you have a strong brand, there may be opportunities to exploit it through licensing or other commercial arrangements.

Messi has his team of advisors around him to protect, enforce and exploit his brand. If your business could benefit from similar advice and brand protection, we can help.

Please get in touch with us if you require advice or assistance.

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