16 June 2016Trademarks

FC Barcelona loses trademark dispute at EU General Court

A European court has affirmed an earlier ruling that Spanish football club FC Barcelona has not been able to demonstrate genuine use of trademarks in a dispute with US-based fashion company Kule.

The General Court issued its decision today, June 16, saying that FC Barcelona was not able to demonstrate genuine use of ‘Cule’.

Kule filed an application for a European Union trademark for ‘Kule’ at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2011.

It covers class 14 for “jewellery and precious stones”, class 18 for “wallets, purses and trunks” and class 25 for “clothing, footwear and headgear”.

On November 2, 2011 FC Barcelona opposed the application claiming infringement of its trademarks for ‘Cule’, which were applied for in 1982. The term ‘culé’ refers to a supporter or player of the club.

The trademarks cover class 14 goods for “jewellery and medals”, class 18 for “handbags and travel bags” and class 25 for “shirts and socks”.

In October 2013, the Opposition Division rejected the opposition and in November 2013 FC Barcelona appealed against the decision at the EUIPO. The Fourth Board of Appeal then rejected the club’s appeal based on non-use of the trademarks.

FC Barcelona claimed that the General Court should annul the contested decision, refuse the application for registration and pay costs.

The club produced evidence claiming that sports websites in Spain and Wikpedia make reference to the word ‘culé’.

The General Court’s ruling today said that “the applicant [FC Barcelona] has not adduced evidence to show the place, time, extent or nature of use of the earlier trademarks in relation to the goods covered … The documents produced … show that the Spanish term ‘culé’ is used in relation to Fútbol Club Barcelona, more specifically as a nickname bestowed upon its supporters or its players.

“However, the use of that term has not been proved in relation to the goods covered by the earlier trademarks,” it added.

The court dismissed the appeal and ordered FC Barcelona to pay costs.

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