14 November 2017Trademarks

NFL successfully opposes ‘Superbowl’ trademark at UKIPO

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has granted a partial win to the National Football League (NFL), which had opposed a trademark application covering tenpin bowling.

In August 2016, QL Partnership filed EU application number 3,179,701, consisting of the term ‘Superbowl UK’ with ‘Tenpin bowling at its best’ in smaller font above.

It was applied for in class 41 (for entertainment services including provision of bowling facilities) and class 43 (which is called “services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodation”.).

The NFL opposed the mark a month later, on the basis that it infringed EU registration number 1,751,221 for ‘Superbowl’, which was filed in 2000 and registered for goods and services in classes 16, 25, 28 and 41.

The Super Bowl, an American football game held annually, is the championship decider of the NFL.

In a ruling handed down by comptroller-general Ann Corbett on Wednesday, November 8, the IPO stated that QL Partnership’s applied-for mark and the NFL’s registration are “visually similar to a medium degree, aurally at least highly similar and conceptually similar to a high degree”.

Corbett added that the services offered are also similar, which could lead to customer confusion.

“As both specifications include entertainment/entertainment services, these are clearly identical services,” she stated.

“The applicant’s provision of bowling facilities, bowling centres, and ten-pin-bowling alley services are each included within the opponent’s entertainment and sporting activities and are also identical services.”

Corbett stated that the opposition succeeded in relation to services in class 41, but failed in class 43.

She added that the NFL had not provided sufficient evidence of trade in relation to class 43.

“The objection under this ground cannot hope to succeed to any greater extent than that already considered and I decline to deal with it further,” stated Corbett.

Both sides were ordered to pay attorneys’ fees due to the “equal measure of success”.

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