Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Soccer team names cause intellectual property setbacks

New Jersey residents can take a lesson from Major League Soccer when it comes to staying out of trouble when it comes to starting a business. Specifically, aspiring businesspersons may overlook intellectual property issues and can end up in legal hot water. The same exact thing happened to soccer legend David Beckham which may now force him to have to rebrand his new soccer team.

MLS teams have sought to pattern themselves after large European soccer clubs to take advantage of the name recognition that these clubs enjoy worldwide. The problem is that Inter Milan filed a trademark application for its name in the U.S. back in 2014. Beckham has sought to brand his club as Inter Miami, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has not granted Inter Miami's request to patent its name because there are two entities seeking to patent similar names.

MLS has sought to oppose Inter Milan's trademark application, the approval of which would make it difficult for Inter Miami to use its own proposed name. The league has argued that there is little likelihood of confusion between the two teams. However, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has dismissed MLS's initial filing. Inter Miami has already announced its colors, logo and uniform, so having to change its name would be inconvenient at this point.

An intellectual property lawyer can help businesses new and old avoid being in this situation by planning for intellectual property issues before making a business move. This could include a search for patents as well as advise on any possible workarounds for troublesome patent issues so as to avoid future intellectual property litigation. At the same time, they can also work to protect their own intellectual property by hiring an attorney to both help them patent their property as well as enforce the rights to their existing intellectual property.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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