16 August 2018Trademarks

Party company fails to collect ‘Monopoly’ TM from Hasbro

The maker of popular board game “Monopoly” has successfully defended the 64-year-old ‘Monopoly’ mark against a revocation application in the UK.

Judi Pike, of the UK Intellectual Property Office, delivered the decision on Tuesday, August 14.

In May 2017, Croatian entertainment company Kreativni Dogadaji, which organises parties and corporate events, filed an application to revoke ‘Monopoly’ as a trademark in the UK.

American toy company Hasbro owns the ‘Monopoly’ mark (UK number 711,981), which has been registered in the UK since 1954 and covers class 28 for board games.

“Monopoly” was first released in 1935 by Parker Brothers, another American toy manufacturer, which was acquired by Hasbro in 1991. The game is named after the economic concept of a monopoly.

Kreativni claimed an effective revocation date of November 1957, based upon the expiry of the five-year period after the trademark was filed.

However, trademark owners have five years, from the day after registration is completed, to commence use of their mark, Pike explained. The date identified by Kreativni falls within this five year period for the ‘Monopoly’ mark.

Kreativni also argued that there was no genuine use of the mark in other five-year periods, from 2002 to 2007; 2007 to 2012; and 2012 to 2017.

In response, Hasbro claimed it has used the ‘Monopoly’ mark for many years in the UK, including during the periods listed by Kreativni. Hasbro submitted a number of exhibits to prove this, including marketing materials and parts of the board games’ packaging.

Hasbro also submitted an Argos catalogue to prove the game was distributed by a major UK retailer.

Annual UK sales of the board game “run into millions of pounds”, Pike noted. In 2016, the figure was £7.1 million ($9.1 million), which amounts to 784,000 units of the board game.

Pike said Hasbro had “amply shown that it has made use of ‘Monopoly’” in relation to board games, and that the evidence is “unequivocal”.

Finally, Kreativni argued that ‘Monopoly’ is used to denote the content, and not the origin, of the board game, and so the use of the mark cannot be considered trademark use. Kreativni noted that the word ‘monopoly’ is used to describe the purpose of the game: to achieve a property market monopoly.

Pike disagreed with Kreativni.

She said that Hasbro’s use of the mark is sufficient to constitute trademark use, and “there is no bar against titles of games as trademarks”.

“The question is not whether ‘Monopoly’ could be used as a trademark for the registered goods, but whether it has been used as a trademark,” Pike explained.

She added that consumers do not view the ‘Monopoly’ mark as relating to a characteristic of the board game and confirmed that the mark has distinctive character.

Pike dismissed Kreativni’s application for revocation and ordered the Croatian company to pay Hasbro £1,500 ($1,907) in costs.

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5 May 2021   On April 21, Hasbro had its EU ‘Monopoly’ trademark partially invalidated by the EU General Court.