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F1 to modify trademark filing for logo

NEWS STORY
19/06/2019

The long-running behind-the scene dispute over F1's 'new' logo appears to have reached its conclusion, with - as ever - only the lawyers being the real victors.

As part of its plan to distance the sport from its previous management, at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Liberty Media proudly revealed its new logo for the sport it had bought at the beginning of the year.

"I liked the old one better" opined Sebastian Vettel, while Lewis Hamilton admitted "I don't think the new one is as iconic".

Indeed, only last year, F1's global research director, Matt Roberts admitted that a survey of "8,000 representative global sports fans showed that over 2/3s of F1 fans (avid + casual) didn't really have an opinion either way with the remainder slightly more positive than negative about the new branding".

Among those not entirely impressed by the new logo was 3M, best known for its Post-It Notes and Scotch tape, which among its wide range of products also produces therapeutic clothing, including ankle supports, knee straps and compression tights for airline passengers at risk of deep-vein thrombosis, under its Futuro brand.

3M claimed F1's new logo - which had been chosen from around 600 options provided by advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy - bore a striking similarity to its Futuro logo which had been unveiled some time earlier.

The European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reveals that 3M registered a pan-European trademark to its logo in June 2017 while F1 didn't apply for its new logo until November.

In early 2018 it was revealed that 3M was considering its options.

The F1 trademark application was made in 26 of the total of 45 categories and in June 2018, and 3M lodged opposition to "all the goods and services" because "there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public."

Essentially, if the authorities came down in 3M's favour, F1 could have been forced to drop its new logo.

EUIPO wrote to F1 in August, stating that "the adversarial part of the opposition proceedings will begin on 27/08/2018."

However, both parties asked "to extend the (cooling-off) period before the start of the adversarial part of the opposition proceedings, this period has been extended by 22 months."

Despite the obvious similarity between the logos, many argued that there was no real danger of 'confusion' as the products they appear on are so obviously different.

In March this year, lawyers, Harmsen Utescher, acting for F1, wrote to the EUIPO confirming that it would exclude therapeutic clothing from the scope of its trademark filing.

According to Forbes, it agreed to add a disclaimer stating that in the categories which cover clothing and sporting equipment, "none of the aforementioned goods [are] intended or adapted for use in an orthopaedic or therapeutic setting, for orthopaedic or therapeutic muscle or joint support, or as orthopaedic or therapeutic compression or anti-embolism products."

In April, EUIPO replied, stating "it is hereby confirmed that the list of goods and services of the abovementioned application has been restricted."

3M was subsequently informed and given until 20 July to respond or opposition proceedings would continue.

Earlier this month, 3M responded to EUIPO requesting that it "withdraw the above referenced opposition following a restriction of the European Union trade mark application (before the commencement of the adversarial part of the proceedings)."

In turn, EUIPO confirmed to F1 that the "opposition has been withdrawn and the opposition proceedings are concluded."

Finally, the long-running saga had come to an end.

That said, as is so often the case, the real winners are the lawyers, the costs of this lamentable logo ludicrousness sure to take yet another bite out of the 68% of the ever-decreasing profits the sport's ten teams 'share'.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ian_w, 20/06/2019 4:12

"Meanwhile, Adidas loses its trademark on tne three stripe "boot" as not "distinctive enough"!
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jun/19/adidas-loses-three-stripe-trademark-battle-in-european-court
"

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2. Posted by Malemoi, 19/06/2019 17:38

"Why try and fix something that wasn't broken in the first place. Lewis is right the old one was more iconic"

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