KLAKA wins a victory on points for DFB: Legal validity of the DFB eagle logo confirmed

German Patent and Trademark Office dismisses invalidity application by the real,- supermarket chain

Munich, 05.11.2015: In the dispute concerning the German national football team logo, KLAKA Rechtsanwälte has gained an important victory for the German Football Federation (DFB). The  German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) has dismissed the application for a declaration of invalidity filed by the real,- retail chain against the DFB trademark, thus confirming the trademark registration (ruling of 30.10.2015, case No.: S 208/14 Lösch).

The famous logo with the DFB eagle surrounded by the text “DEUTSCHER FUSSBALL-BUND” is registered in various versions as a trademark. On the occasion of the 2014 World Cup, real,- sold fan shirts and car floor mats with similar logos, merely omitting the text or replacing it with the word “Deutschland”. The judicial prohibition obtained against this has in the meantime been partially confirmed; an appeal is still possible.

At the same time real,- applied for a declaration of the invalidity of the DFB trademark to both the German Patent and Trademark Office and the EU Trademark Office (OHIM), arguing that the representation of an eagle that it contained was an imitation of the federal eagle and was therefore not permitted to be part of a trademark registration.

The German Patent and Trademark Office has now dismissed the real,- application. Admittedly, the DFB eagle had a relevant similarity to the federal eagle. However, the reputation of the German Football Federation meant that the DFB logo would tend to be attributed to the field of sport, with the result that the eagle might not be regarded as a sovereign symbol here. In addition, the Federal Minister for the Interior had confirmed his express consent to the registration and use of the trademark, which in any event prevented the trademark being invalid.

“Not every eagle automatically leads to the invalidity of a trademark,” comments trademark lawyer Oliver Rauscher of KLAKA Rechtsanwälte, who represented the DFB in the cancellation proceedings. “And even if this were a sovereign symbol, it would have to be interpreted as such in the trademark.” In addition, the law permits the registration of such a trademark if the competent authority gives its consent. “The eagle logo has been used by the DFB for far longer than 60 years, and of course the Federal Ministry of the Interior has always consented to the DFB trademarks,” according to Rauscher. “We had this confirmed by the Ministry in writing once again last year.”

real,- can still file an appeal to the Federal Patent Court against the Patent Office decision. In parallel proceedings before the OHIM concerning the retro-version of the DFB eagle logo, a first decision will not be rendered until next year.

Counsel for Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB) e.V.

KLAKA Rechtsanwälte, Munich
Oliver Rauscher, lawyer, industrial property specialist, partner