Many brand names are inspired by a first or surname (or both). Just think of Disney, Louboutin and Heineken.
Often the brand is based on the name of the brand’s founder. Not quite original, but very recognizable. And a first name or surname is usually distinctive and thus a perfect trademark.
So first and last names are popular trademarks and therefore widely chosen and registered as a trademark. Consequently, the chance that these names are available as a trademark are often limited.
The company that filed the trademark Hugo in the European Union experienced just that. When we think of Hugo, we immediately think of Hugo Boss, but the opponent was not ‘the boss’, but the holder of the trademark H’ugo’s.
Despite the graphic differences between the trademarks (H’ugo’s was a word mark), the word element is almost the same. And thus, the EUIPO found the trademarks similar and rejected the European application.
The lesson learned: trademark availability searches are very, very important.
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