The well-known Italian footballer Mario Balotelli won a trademark dispute in Italy.
In 2013, the Italian individual Mr. Gabriele Casagrande registered a trademark “MB45” for class 25 – clothing, shoes, headgear. This mark was duplicated as a European mark and after that both were transferred to a Lithuanian company.
In 2015, finding about this mark, Mario Balotelli initiated a lawsuit asking for invalidation of the sign and the domain name “www.mb45.it”. The grounds for this were the fact that “MB45” is the Balotelli’s pseudonym. MB means Mario Balotelli and 45 is the number of the jersey that he uses. What’s more this sign was used on shoes produced and sold in collaboration with Puma in 2013.
Gabriele Casagrande disagreed with these accusations, stating that his mark “MB45” was inspired by the name of a tugboat of the Russian Navy Morsokoy Buksir with the same name.
The Court in Rome wasn’t impressed by this argument and invalidated the mark. According to the Court, the consumers in Italy, especially the football fans, are quite familiar with “MB45” as an indication related to Mario Balotelli. Additionally, the goods related to Gabriele Casagrande’s mark are typical and common products that famous people and sportsmen used their names or indications for.
The application for the later mark was made only a few days after Mario Balotelli, bearing “MB45”, was included in media materials. Because of this, the application for the mark was deemed as made in bad faith. The same conclusion was reach for the domain “www.mb45.it”.
Source: Martini Manna Law Firm – Margherita Stucchi for Lexology.