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The CJEU authorizes Messi to use his surname as a trademark

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled this Thursday in favor of the Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi and allows him to register articles and clothing using his surname as a trademark. The Luxembourg Court thus dismisses the appeals presented by the firm ‘Massi’, dedicated primarily to the world of cycling, integrated into a Spanish company, and which also has in its sales catalog clothing, footwear, bicycle helmets, cycling suits protection and gloves.

It also rules against the EUIPO itself (the European Union Intellectual Property Office) that in 2014 had given the reason to ‘Massi’. The argument of both, the “risk of confusion” between the two nominations. But the CJEU has knocked him down. In essence, because it considers that the notoriety of the Blaugrana’s surname is “world famous” and easily recognizable, which would invalidate any risk of both phonetic and graphic misunderstanding with ‘Massi’.

The CJEU ruling assumes that there are similarities, but there are “clear conceptual differences” that “neutralize” them. Specifically, the brand ‘Messi’ refers to a “world famous” soccer player, a public figure that anyone “can know or who can be found out through generally accessible sources. And these sources (reproach) were elements that were at the disposal of the EUIPO when it adopted its resolution six years ago (favorable to the cycling equipment company) and that it should have taken into account when assessing the similarity between the ‘Massi’ signs and ‘Messi’ ‘on a conceptual level.

The CJEU also recalls that in order to assess whether a sign has a clear and determined meaning from the perspective of the public to whom it is addressed, it is necessary to assess both the sign of the earlier trademark (in this case, ‘Massi’) and the one corresponding to the brand whose registration was requested a posteriori (‘Messi’). And in this sense, he considers that a part of the public will perceive the signature ‘Messi’ with the Barcelona striker and the ‘Massi’ with the public he is addressing, without risk of error. In other words, the similarity of the marks is not so extremely ‘high’ that the public ‘comes to believe that the products in question originate from the same company or from economically related companies’.

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