One victory Lewis Hamilton wont be getting is in his recent trade mark with Hamilton International AG, swiss watch makers. Already appearing to own a trade mark for “LEWIS HAMILTON” since 2001, 44IP, the company that overseas Hamilton’s image rights attempted to branch out in class 14 for protection for watches in 2015, which saw opposition proceedings carried out by the Swiss Watch maker.
In turn, 44IP sought to cancel the Watch Maker’s mark, using the bad faith basis, claiming that the marks aim was to prevent fair competition, and had no intention to use the mark in commerce.
This argument was rebutted by Hamilton International, showing evidence that the mark had been used since 1892, an argument which was accepted by the EUIPO; “Even the cancellation applicant explicitly accepted that the contested mark ‘HAMILTON’ had been used since 1892, i.e. even before the date of birth of “Lewis Hamilton” as a natural person. No bad faith can be found on the part of the EU trademark proprietor. In fact, the EU trademark proprietor demonstrated a significant economic activity in the horological field since 1892.”
A second argument made by 44IP claimed that Hamilton would be well known throughout the EU, that consumers would recognise the difference between the two brands. However this argument was also dismissed by the EU; “’The contested mark consists solely of one word ‘HAMILTON’, and not ‘LEWIS HAMILTON’. It is a rather common surname in English-speaking countries. There is no “natural right” for a person to have his or her own name registered as a trademark, when that would infringe third parties’ rights” Footballer Lionel Messi successfully used the same argument, but likely succeeded due to the unusuality of his name in the EU compared to the common Hamilton.