Lewis Hamilton, who became world champion at the Turkish Grand Prix for the seventh time recently lost a three-year court dispute over the brand name with luxury watchmaker ‘Hamilton International.
Since claiming the name ‘Hamilton’ as a trademark, the Formula One world champion took suit against the Swiss company, granting them exclusive rights to use the logo on accessories across Europe.
Lawyers for the 44IP business of the British racer sought to cancel the appeal and argued that it was submitted in ‘poor faith,’ thwarted ‘equal competition’ and was not even included.
Hamilton International, a member of the Swatch Company, replied with proof that they have been distributing watches that carry the name since 1892.
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) agreed and has now dismissed the claim by the racing driver’s corporation to revoke the trademark.
Hamilton, 35, said the union had no ‘normal right’ to have its identity covered and pointed out that it had been used by the Swiss corporation since he was born.
The EUIPO claimed in its ruling:’ The claim concerning the IP rights of the’ Lewis Hamilton’ racing driver fails.
‘The label at issue consists of one word only,’ HAMILTON,’ and not,’ LEWIS HAMILTON.’ In English-speaking nations, it is a very widespread surname.
There is no ‘normal right’ for a person to have his or her own name licensed as a trademark, whether it violates the rights of third parties.
‘Only the claimant for cancelation expressly acknowledged that the disputed name’ HAMILTON ‘had been used as a natural individual since 1892, that is, even before the date of birth of’ Lewis Hamilton.’
‘There is no ill conscience on the part of the EU proprietor of the trademark. Indeed, since 1892, the EU trademark owner has demonstrated considerable economic development in the horological sector.’
According to Mail Online, the order was handed down last month by the Board of Appeal of the EUIPO following the rejection of the original proposal for cancellation in December of last year.
The hearing was told that 44IP, named after the race number of the Mercedes driver, is seeking to patent the name ‘Lewis Hamilton’ for a number of products, including watches, smartwatches, and jewelry, and the application is resisted by Hamilton International.
The racing driver’s attorneys raised fears that the opposing business was trying to grow into smartwatches.
In addition, the legal team of Hamilton International submitted facts stating: ‘The appellant grounds its claim of bad faith on the part of the proprietor of the contested trademark on the fact that that group has not given evidence of the proprietor of the contested trademark’s commercial purpose to extend its business to similar products.
We do not think it acceptable or necessary for a rival who wants to enter the market with a mark that is virtually similar to our client’s well-known earlier labels, to promote market strategy and marketing plans by selling items that are also identical.’
44IP was ordered in the case to pay £ 893 for the expenses of Hamilton International.