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Formula One Wins Court Challenge Overturning ‘F 1’ Trademark

Formula One Licensing BV won a challenge that sought to overturn another company’s European Union-wide trademark for the term “F 1.”

The European Court of Justice, the 27-nation EU’s highest tribunal, rejected earlier decisions to award the EU trademark to Racing-Live, a motor sports website based in Montpellier, France.

The EU’s trademark office and an EU appeals court “failed to acknowledge, in relation to trademarks, the distinctive character of the ‘F1’ sign” and shouldn’t challenge the validity of trademarks awarded by the EU’s member states, the Luxembourg-based tribunal said in a statement today.

The group in charge of licensing for Formula One, the world’s most-watched motor sport, in 2005 appealed the French company’s application and had won the EU trademark agency’s backing that such a trademark would be confused with the group’s existing F1 trademarks. The agency overturned that ruling in 2008. Formula One lost an initial challenge to the EU’s General Court last year.

Formula One Licensing didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Today’s ruling asks the EU’s General Court to re-examine the case.

The case is: C-196/11 P Formula One Licensing BV v Office for the Harmonisation of the Internal Market.

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