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Social Networks United Kingdom

UK Company Successfully Claims Ownership of "Pinterest" Trademark 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-rose-by-any-other-name dept.
judgecorp writes "Pinterest could be in trouble — a British firm has successfully claimed ownership of the European trademark 'Pinterest', even though it has not yet used the term in any public products. Pinterest was formed in 2011, and popular by 2011, but did not launch in Europe until 2012 — months after the UK company Premium Interest had registered the trademark. That trademark has now been confirmed by the European Commission's Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). Since so much of Pinterest's business is based on its name, the ruling could force Pinterest to change its name — a move which has precedents: Microsoft is changing the name of Skydrive because it infringes the trademark of British broadcaster BSkyB, normally known as Sky."
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UK Company Successfully Claims Ownership of "Pinterest" Trademark

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2014 @05:10PM (#45873047)

    Funny that this happens also the other way round (EU-based company taking over a trademark of a US-based company in a hostile manner).

    You probably don't know, but in the 19th century the Czech brewery Budweiser was exporting its lagers to the US. However, they didn't register the trademark (probably didn't know about it back then). And voila, Anheuser-Busch within 10 years registered the US trademark and started to make "beer" that was completely unlike the original (dating back to 13th century). Biggest audacity happened then in the '90s when they tried to squeeze out the original Czech brewery out of European market. As a consequence, EU banned the US Budweiser from ever using this name in Europe. You can get the original Budweiser/Budvar under then name Czechvar in the US nowadays.

    Cheers!

  • Re:Weasfest (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shimbo (100005) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @05:29PM (#45873163)

    Nice try, but no. The UK startup was named "Premium Interest", so its a logical trademark.

    However, it wasn't incorprated until April 2012.

  • Re:Weasfest (Score:5, Informative)

    by DRJlaw (946416) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @08:20PM (#45874323)

    From what the summary says, these people saw someone using the name for a US service and claimed the trademark in Europe before the US company could. This seems to me to be an exceptional example of abuse of the system.

    This seems to be a perfectly ordinary example of how the system works. Especially in countries other than the United States (excepting select other Anglo/common law countries).

    In most countries, trademark rights are protected through registration and awarded to the first to file to use the mark in that country. Trademark 'squatting' is as unexceptional as the sun rising in the east. Take China, for example. [cnn.com]

    The solution has been in existence for more than a century. The Madrid System [wipo.int] allows someone who files for a trademark in their home country to also file an international application that creates, at a minimum, priority rights to the mark in each contracting country. The international application can serve as a common application for each designated member state, or can be transformed into individual trademark filings in each member state.

    The Paris Convention [wipo.int] also allows someone to file for the same trademark in almost any other country in the world within 6 months of when they first applied for the trademark elsewhere. If they do, that application will be treated as if filed on the first filing date. The downside is that you have to file individual trademark applications rather than a single international application.

    Pinterest took neither route. Not only that, Pinterest didn't file an application to register its trademark anywhere before these people did. See here: [markmatters.com].

    The company Premium Interest filed the trademark PINTEREST in the European Union, 2 months before Pinterest filed its US trademark.

    Whether out of desperation or sheer gall, Pinterest essentially argued that its business in the US somehow gave it prior trademark rights in Europe. See the same article: [markmatters.com]

    Since the OHIM systematically rejected all the evidence as the evidence concerned the use of the mark in the US and not in the UK, Pinterest lost the opposition.

    Summary for the TL;DR crowd: Disruptive internet startup presumed that it could claim worldwide trademark rights by registering a domain name and sorting out compliance with the law later. Startup was very wrong.

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