Football trademark battle - Eagle Symbol of REAL infringes trademark rights

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On 7 August 2014 the Regional Court of Munich (I) decided that REAL is not allowed to use symbols that look similar to the club logo of the German Football Association (Case No: 11 HKO O 10510/14).

Introduction

During the course of a legal dispute, it sometimes becomes necessary for a party to seek a temporary remedy in the form of an injunction. Interim injunctions are a separate, very quick court action prior to in parallel to a main court proceeding. They can be essential in circumstances where a party wishes to preserve the status quo until the dispute has been fully and finally resolved.

Background of the Case and Subject Matter

The German Football Association uses the famous logo with an eagle on it since 1920. The logo - you can see on the left side below - is protected as a German and a Community Trademark. The defendant, REAL, is a large German supermarket chain. During the World Cup, REAL started selling products for football fans like clothing, foot mats, etc. with a symbol (see below in the middle) on it which looks like the logo of the Association. Therefore, the German Football Association was of the opinion that the products of REAL infringe their trademarks. For that reason the Association obtained an interim injunction from the Regional Court of Munich on 20 May 2014. Against this interim injunction REAL filed an opposition. One of the fundamental points in the dispute was the protectability of the trademark, because in general, trademarks which contain national symbols, cannot be protected and the eagle of the logo looks like the German Federal Eagle (see right below).

Adler DFB                   Adler Real               Adler

Decision

The Regional Court of Munich (I) decided that there is likelihood of confusion between the logo of the German Football Association and the one used by REAL. Therefore, REAL has infringed the rights of the Association.

Note: It remains to be seen if the German Football Association will file and prevail in a main court action and if, e.g., the German Trademark No. 30 2012 058 752 “Deutscher Fußball Bund” (word/device mark) inclusive the “eagle” will remain registered or if the mark will be cancelled from the register of the Trademark Office.