3 July 2018Trademarks

NFL fails in ‘Tiger Muay Thai’ opposition

The National Football League (NFL) failed in its opposition to a trademark featuring a tiger’s head at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) last week.

On Wednesday, June 27, the IPO rejected the NFL’s attempt to stop registration of a mark featuring the words ‘Tiger Muay Thai’ in a semi-circle above a drawing of a tiger’s head.

Tiger Muay Thai Trading applied to register the mark in January 2017 to cover clothing (class 25) and shin pads (class 28). Located in Phuket, Thailand, the company operates a Muay Thai training camp.

But, according to the NFL, the applied-for mark is too similar to its own EU trademark 3,347,119, which also features a tiger’s head. Registered in November 2004, the mark covers football helmets (class 9) and clothing (class 25).

NFL’s trademark is used by the Cincinnati Bengals, an American football team which competes in the NFL.

Tiger Muay Thai Trading denied the grounds of the opposition while requesting the NFL prove that it had used the mark in the past five years.

NFL submitted a witness statement from Marcus Collins, a senior associate solicitor at White & Case (NFL’s representative), and two exhibits.

The exhibits featured a schedule of clothing items available in the UK and a copy of a 2015 decision from the European Union Intellectual Property Office in relation to opposition proceedings for the NFL trademark but for services in class 41.

This was not enough for the IPO.

“In my view the evidence provided falls far short of the sufficiency and solidity needed to meet the standards of proof required,” said June Ralph, on behalf of the IPO.

She added that if the trademark had been put to genuine use, then it shouldn’t have been a “difficult matter” for the NFL to show that use.

The opposition failed in its entirety and the NFL was ordered to pay £400 ($527).

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