Football superstar Lionel Messi won the backing of European Court of Justice judges on 26 April, when they ruled that the Barcelona player’s request for a trademark is legitimate, citing his fame outside the world of football as a crucial element of the case.
The case dates back to 2011, when Messi’s representatives requested the European Union Office for Intellectual Property (EUIPO) to register a logo that includes a capital letter ‘M’ and the football player’s surname in all capital letters. Following that request, a complaint was lodged against Messi by another clothing and sports equipment company, MASSI, which cited the similarities between the two trademarks and the likelihood the two could be confused.
EUIPO upheld that complaint, agreeing that there was a real chance of confusion, due to the visual and phonetic similarities. Messi first appealed at the EUIPO and then went to the ECJ for a ruling. The General Court annulled the EUIPO’s ruling, insisting that Messi is enough of a “famous figure” even outside of the world of football for most average consumers not to confuse the two brands.