The case between Arsenal and Matthew Reed is one of the European trademark classics. The case was brought into court by Arsenal against Matthew Reed who sold unlicensed Arsenal t-shirts before the Arsenal stadium.
Trademark infringement according to Arsenal, but Reed stressed that the use of the trademark was merely a evidence of support and loyalty.
The Court of Justice ruled that a trade mark proprietor is entitled to act against the trademark use in the event the essential function of the trademark is violated (which was at hand in this case). Moreover, a post sale confusion has been affirmed: at the time of the purchase confusion may not be present, but this can also occur after the purchasing of the products.
2014, both parties are still fighting. Reed started an application for revocation against the European wordmark ARSENAL and asserted that this trademark has not been used. An interesting point brought forward was that use of the mark ARSENAL on clothing would not constitute trademark use, but merely use of a badge (which is not an indication of origin). The OHIM states that all evidence must be assessed answering the question whether a sign is used as a trademark. In view of the use of ARSENAL on various products, as a company name and a shop name, the OHIM s of the opinion that there is trademark use.
Despite of some products, like a gramophone record, Arsenal can attest the use and the trademark survives the attack.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”