Fame Factor: Is There a Special Trademark Regime for Superstars?

Fame Factor

The right of Lionel Messi (“the Footballer”) to register his name as a trademark was recently upheld in a decision delivered by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“the Court”) (“the Decision”).

The Footballer’s application to register “Messi” as a word with a device mark before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) had been successfully opposed by Jaime Masferrer Coma, the registered proprietor of the word mark “Massi”, on the basis that “Messi” is confusingly similar with “Massi”. Massi is a brand that deals in cycling and athletic wears, and it is registered in the same trademark classes as those sought by Messi.

Notably, the Court acknowledged the auditory and visual similarities between “Messi” and “Massi” (“the Competing Marks”), and noted that the “M” device accompanying the stylised “Messi” word mark had done nothing to douse the similarity between the Competing Marks.

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