The world champion in F1 Max Verstappen filed a trademark application in Benelux for MAX 1 in classes 25, 35, and 41.
The main idea for this mark was to indicate different merchandising goods and services bearing the first name of the pilot and the number 1 that shows his top position in F1.
Against this sign, however, an opposition was filed by Nike based on the earlier and well-known mark AIR MAX used for sneakers.
The Benelux Patent Office upheld the opposition finding both signs similar enough from the visual and phonetic points of view for similar goods and considering the reputation of the earlier mark.
Max Verstappen’s representatives tried to argue that consumer confusion between the marks was impossible because MAX 1 clearly referred to the pilot’s first name and its leading position in the racing competition.
All of that was to no avail. The Office reminded that for the purpose of comparison what is important is the signs in the way they are represented and not the way how they are used in practice.