Beam me up

Generally speaking, the title of a book cannot be a trademark, after all, the title is part of the product and has no function as a trademark. Because books sometimes form the basis for a blog, television program, etc., you see that in some cases a trademark function does arise. You can say the same about a single television program (a documentary for example). But when it concerns a series of programs that all bear the same name: that’s a trademark. This use as a trademark is evident in well-known shows such as The Voice.

A recent opposition raised the question of whether or not the legendary television series Star Trek is a well-known trademark. The EUIPO had to assess whether the STARTREK Sport Nutrition application infringed the trademark rights of CBS Studios Inc., holder of the STAR TREK trademark. CBS also relied on the reputation of the trademark, as evidenced by print outs from many Star Trek websites (including fans’ websites). According to the EUIPO, this evidence shows that the trademark is widely known. However, the reputation only applies to a television program and not to the other products and services for which the trademark is registered.

As the reputation of a trademark is an important condition in order to rely on the broader protection of a well-known trademark, other conditions have to be met as well. And CBS succeeds: the EUIPO finds it plausible that the consumer makes a link between the trademarks and that the application takes advantage of the well-known trademark STAR TREK. And so the application from STARTREK Sport Nutrition is rejected. Beam the trademark up, Scotty!

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Arnaud Bos

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