Messi is Allowed to Sell Stuff Under His Own Name. In the case of Massi against Messi, the Argentinian football player has been right. The Court of the European Union has decided that Lionel Messi, who has been playing for FC Barcelona for years, may register his Messi brand for sports articles and clothing.
In 2011 Messi requested the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register the ‘MESSI’ brand under which he wants to sell clothing, shoes, gymnastics and sporting goods.
But there was the Spanish company Massi, which does not sell bikes, bicycle helmets, clothing and accessories. That company is the owner of the word brand ‘MASSI’.
According to Jaime Masferrer Coma, owner of Massi, Messi would look too much like the brand he is carrying, and so he wanted to prevent Messi’s entry. He was right from the EUIPO which also spoke of a likelihood of confusion between the brands.
Thus the signs of the ‘conflicting marks’ would be very similar on ‘phonetic level’. In other words: Massi sounds very much like Messi. Messi then stepped to the General Court of the European Union, which overturned the decision of the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union.
According to the Court, the trademarks Messi and Massi do not seem very similar to each other so that it is not too bad with the possible confusion.
Besides, Messi is a well-known figure and weighs against the similarity between the two names on both the pronunciation and the appearance of the letters. Anyone who sees or hears the name Messi will think more often about the player than Massi, according to the Court.
The judges add that although it is possible that a single consumer has never heard of Messi or cannot remember that name, this does not apply to the average consumer who buys sporting goods or clothing. The Court of First Instance agrees with EUIPO that the brands are very similar concerning sound.
Massi can appeal against the ruling within two months. Whether that will happen is uncertain, Massi did not respond directly to a request for comment.