The General Court of the European Union ruled in a trademark case which involves the well-known footballer Lionel Messi.
The case started back in 2011 when the footballer applied for a European trademark MESSI for sports clothes, shoes etc.
Against this application, an opposition was filed based on an earlier mark MASSI for the same Classes of goods, owned by a Spanish company.
The EUIPO upheld the opposition, which decision was appealed.
According to the Court, although there is a similarity between both signs which cover similar and identical goods, there is no serious possibility for consumer confusion due to the existing world reputation, publicity and celebrity status of Lionel Messi.
The Court considers that taking into account the sports goods which are covered in the footballer’s mark, most of the consumers will associate his mark with his name, and not with the earlier Spanish mark.
This case shows clearly how important is the reputation and publicity in regard to trademarks belonging to persons.