THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2009
Spain – Olympics and Trade Mark Law.
Do not play with the term “Olimpic” (“Olympic” in English), that according to a recent judgment of the Spanish Supreme Court dated February 24, 2009 must be reserved for activities related to the Olympic Games.
A Spanish individual tried to register the Spanish trade mark no. 2269636 “Antic Olimpic” (and device) for services in class 42 ("restaurants"). The trade mark consisted in the logo below.
The Spanish Patents and Trade Marks Office (SPTO) refused its registration, and the applicant brought an appeal before the High Court of Madrid. The appeal was upheld, and the Court ruled that the brand was registrable.
The Spanish Olympic Committee (official Spanish authority in the field – opposing party in the judicial proceedings) appealed such Judgment. The story ends with the Supreme Court awarding the appeal from the Spanish Olympic Committee and overturning the decision of the lower Court.
According to the reported Judgment, the lower Court failed in applying section 49 of so-called Spanish Sport Act ("Ley 10/1990, de 15 de octubre, de Deportes)". According to this specific section, the words “Olympic Games” ("Juegos Olímpicos") and “Olympics” (“Olimpiadas”) and related signs cannot be used by third parties alien to the Spanish Olympic Committee. According to the Judgment, applying for the registration of any of those signs amounts to its “use” – and therefore falls under the scope of the prohibition in section 49 of the Spanish Sport Act.
The Spanish Supreme Court found that the prohibition envisaged in section 49 of the Sport Act is to be considered “ordre public”, so the SPTO is bound to it when applying the absolute grounds for trade mark refusal and is obliged to refuse any trade mark intending to gain exclusive rights over any of the Olympic family of brands.
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