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Wembley Stadium wins EU trademark case

Wembley FC, a semiprofessional football team based in Wembley, north-west London, is to lose the European trademark to its club emblem following a complaint by Wembley Stadium.

The club obtained the trademark, which covers a range of goods and services, including clothing, merchandise, toiletries, alcoholic beverages and household items, from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2012 – at which time the 90,000-capacity stadium, owned by the Football Association (FA), missed an opportunity to file an objection.

However, in a cancellation decision dated 12 July, EUIPO ruled that Wembley FC’s trademark infringed on that of Wembley Stadium, which in its former iteration had been named as such since the 1920s (Wembley FC was founded in 1946).

EUIPO noted that the contested trademark, Wembley FC’s logo (“a figurative mark consisting of a red coat of arms, depicting the stylised head of a lion which occupies nearly the entire shield and which is predominantly in white”), makes use of “Wembley” as its distinctive feature, with the letters “FC” and the club’s Latin motto, A posse ad esse, in much smaller, less eye-catching text.

“Consumers generally tend to focus on the first element of a sign when being confronted with a trademark,” it reads.

“As regards the differing verbal elements of the contested sign, they are less visually eye-catching than ‘Wembley’”

“This is justified by the fact that the public reads from left to right, which makes the part placed at the left of the sign (the initial part) the one that first catches the attention of the reader. Likewise, consumers generally tend to read from top to bottom. […]

“As regards the differing verbal elements of the contested sign (‘FC’ and the Latin motto), they are less visually eye-catching than ‘Wembley’, whereas the figurative elements (the coat of arms with the lion and the ball and the ribbon) may have a less strong impact.”

EUIPO’s cancellation division concluded the contested trademark must, therefore, “be declared invalid for all the contested goods and services”.

Wembley FC, as the losing party, must now pay all fees and costs incurred by cancellation process.

Wembley Stadium, the UK’s largest stadium, posted record revenues in 2015–16, driven in part by a busy live events calendar, including Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna and, most famously, Ed Sheeran. Despite this, as IQ revealed in January, the venue is to scale back its music programming in future following the departure of former business development chief Jim Frayling.


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