The American band Eagles has filed a lawsuit against a Mexican hotel which has adopted the name Hotel California, suggesting that the famous song is based on the hotel. This is an interesting trademark issue (we assume that Eagles has a trademark registration). A typical case of free riding on a well-known trademark.
If a holder of a well-known trademark wishes to succeed (in the EU), a number of conditions must be met. For example, there must be a well-known brand and the used signs must be similar. Also, there must be unfair advantage or the use must be detrimental to distinctive character or reputation of the well-known trademark. Finally, the user should not have a valid reason to use that sign.
In the case of Eagles, the hotel was called Hotel California when is started in the 50s. In the meantime, the hotel has had many names, but the court has to decide whether the renaming of the hotel is justified and can be a valid reason for using this name. The hotel can of course say that the inspiration was somewhere else (namely historical) and the name is not derived from the song. However, according to Eagles, the hotel suggests that the song relates to this hotel, moreover, Eagles music is often played. If that is correct, this would not improve the hotel’s position.
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”