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Trademarks / Designs

Messi: too famous to be confused!

[25/09/2020] The Court of Justice of the European Union has just ruled in favour of Lionel Messi in the long legal dispute opposing the football player to Massi.

In 2011, M. Lionel Messi filed an eponymous trademark to designate, in particular, sports articles and clothing which was opposed by the holder of several EU word marks “Massi” registered for identical and similar goods.

The EUIPO upheld the opposition considering that there was a likelihood of between the trademarks on the ground of their visual and aural similarities. Further, the Office held that the mark ‘MESSI’ would be associated to the football player by only part of the relevant public, who is interested in football and sports in general. This decision was confirmed in second instance by the EUIPO's Board of Appeal.

The case was appealed by Mr. Messi and brought before the General Court of the European Union (GC) that annulled the Office's decision. The GC found indeed that a significant part of the relevant public would associate the term ‘Messi’ with the name of the famous football player and would, therefore, perceive the term ‘Massi’ as being conceptually different, and that there was thus no likelihood of confusion between both signs. 

The Court of Justice of the European Union upheld this decision also considering that he was too well known for confusion to arise.

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