Free as a bird 2013

A good idea at first: filing the “Liver bird”, the bird on the Liverpool logo, separately as a trademark. The aim of football club Liverpool was to improve the fight against counterfeit. This simple application invoked however long legal procedures.

First the city of Liverpool was not very happy with this application. The Liver bird is in fact a symbol of the city. The municipality objected to this application pointing on the fact that general symbols should not be monopolized. However, the municipality and Liverpool made agreements about how this right would be exercised and the matter was concluded.

But then Alfie Hincks filed an invalidity action against the European trademark of Liverpool. The action was based on a conflict with an older famous trademark. However, this Liver bird was of course not a famous trademark of Alfie Hincks himself. Thus, the Ohim was obliged to reject the action on the base of a lack of evidence of earlier rights as you can not invoke third parties rights.

The idea of Hincks was to object against monopolizing general symbols. The action had to be based on the opinion that absolute (and not relevant) grounds were applicable on this trademark. Something one can also invoke during the registration process of an European trademark (called third party observations). A clever instrument in the event you cannot base your claim on older rights.

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Arnaud Bos

“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”



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