Community trademark application — court rules Golden Balls in, not out

In a David (but not Beckham) and Goliath-style battle, a small UK shop has succeeded in retaining its trademark GOLDEN BALLS.

Mr and Mrs Bodur filed a Community trademark (CTM) application for GOLDEN BALLS for, among other things, printed matter. Their application was opposed by Intra-Presse, which owns the earlier mark BALLON D’OR, the name of the annual prize awarded to the world footballer of the year.

The Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM) rejected the opposition. However, the Board of Appeal subsequently upheld Intra-Presse’s appeal. Although agreeing with the initial decision on the obvious points that there was no visual or phonetic similarity between GOLDEN BALLS and BALLON D’OR, the Board of Appeal considered the two marks, from a conceptual point of view, to be either identical or extremely similar — on the basis that, in English, BALLON D’OR means GOLDEN BALL. This, it concluded, was sufficient to mean that there was a likelihood of confusion…

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