Barcelona’s Lionel Messi wins legal battle over trademark

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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been awarded the trademark rights to his own logo after winning a European Union court challenge.

A Spanish cycling clothing manufacturer owning the name Massi filed a notice of opposition to the original registration of Messi’s trademark in 2011, claiming it would lead to confusion with its already registered brand.

However, the General Court of the European Union ruled in Messi’s favour on Thursday after a seven-year battle, overturning the European Union Office for Intellectual Property’s (EUIPO) original ruling.

The decision means Messi is free to use his own branding as he wishes on sports and gymnastics clothing, footwear and equipment across the EU.

The General Court argued that he is so well known around the world that any similarities between the trademarks would be basically redundant.

“The football player’s fame counteracts the visual and phonetic similarities between his trademark and the trademark ‘MASSI,’ belonging to a Spanish company,” a statement said.

“Therefore, EUIPO was wrong to conclude that the use of the trademark ‘MESSI’ for sports and gymnastics clothing, equipment and protective equipment and instruments could create a likelihood of confusion with the trademark ‘MASSI’ on the part of consumers.”

Messi originally went to EUIPO in 2011 to request the trademark but Jaime Masferrer Coma, the owner of Massi, filed a notice of opposition.

EUIPO ruled in Coma’s favour, then upheld its decision in 2013 and dismissed an appeal from Messi the following year.

Messi then brought an appeal before the General Court to have that decision annulled.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.