9 January 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Liverpool FC’s Steven Gerrard marks approved at UKIPO

Two trademarks owned by Liverpool FC, related to footballer Steven Gerrard’s clothing line, have survived an opposition brought by sportswear brand Lotto Sport Italia at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The January 6 decision is the culmination of an appeal filed by Lotto Sport Italia and brings the company’s bid to block the marks from registration to an end.

Liverpool FC filed the marks (numbers 3261155 and 3261166) in October 2017, when former club captain Gerrard was working as a coach in the club’s youth academy.

The two marks are for the logo of SGG Apparel, the clothing line founded by Gerrard in 2018.

In April that year, Gerrard departed Liverpool to take over as head coach of Scottish football club Rangers. Liverpool FC remains listed as the owner of the SGG marks.

The club chose not to participate in the latest appeal process, which ended in Lotto Sport Italia’s opposition being dismissed.

Lotto Sport claimed that the SGG marks with were likely to cause confusion with its own double-rhombus logo, protected by two EU registrations (numbers 2109684 and 16583619).

In the decision, professor Ruth Annand, acting as an appointed person of the IPO, rejected what she called the “metaphysical” arguments put forward by Lotto.

According to Lotto, there was a “conceptual similarity” between the SGG marks and its own, owing to factors such as a shared “ambiguity about whether the shapes were two-dimensional or three-dimensional”.

Annand, siding with the original decision of an IPO hearing officer in 2019, said the average consumer was highly unlikely to engage in such “deconstruction and reconstruction” of the mark.

She also backed the hearing officer’s finding that the Lotto marks did not enjoy a strong reputation for the claimed goods and services (such as clothing) in the UK anyway.

The Italian brand had cited its sponsorship of London football club Queens Park Rangers from 2008 to 2014 as evidence of its mark’s distinctiveness.

Annand said this evidence was undermined by the fact that it was from three years before the filing date of the trademark for one of its logos.

No costs were awarded as Liverpool FC did not participate in the appeal.

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