In its decision issued yesterday morning, the EU General Court partly backed the UK online gambling operator bet365 by annulling the part of a ruling according to which the “Bet 365” trademark was descriptive and had not been sufficient to get distinctive character in class 41, which regards to betting services.
This gave the UK gambling and betting operator partial victory in the trademark war that has been going on for a decade now, with the Court partially dismissing a previous ruling against the company. The remainer of bet365’s appeal, however, which covered other classes such as games, computer software and financial services, was dismissed by the EU General Court.
bet365 Trademark Legal Battle
The legal battle between the two companies started in 2007, after the British gambling company filed an application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for the name “Bet 365” in classes 9, 28, 35, 38, 41 and 42 for its web-based gambling and betting services. The examiner, however, rejected the application, saying that the term “bet” was a generic one, while “365” only showed the number of days in a year, saying that neither one of the name’s parts made the name specific enough.
As a result, the company challenged the ruling, saying that its brand was quite popular and that players in the EU associated it with warrant trademark protection. According to bet365, its mark had been distinctive enough prior to the application filing. Furthermore, the gambling operator had provided various evidence in order to prove that, including industry leaders’ statements and press cuttings.
A year later, in September 2008, after reviewing the submitted pieces of evidence, the examiner concluded that the company’s trademark had been sufficiently distinctive through use. In October, the gambling operator’s application was published for opposition, and was registered several years later.
Then, June 2013 saw an individual named Robert Hansen file an invalidity request for the mark of “Bet 365”, which was later successfully opposed by the gambling operator. His actions were rejected by the Cancellation Division in November 2014, which reached the conclusion that the British gambling company’s mark had a sufficiently distinctive character. However, unfortunately for bet365, another appeal was made by Hansen. As a result, the Fifth Board of Appeal at the EUIPO made a ruling that the gambling operator’s trademark was not distinctive enough in all European countries.
According to the ruling, the Board of Appeal had certain doubts that the contested mark had become distinctive through its use. Yet another appeal by bet 365 followed, which was finally backed by the EU General Court. As mentioned above, the latter annulled the latest decision of the Fifth Board of Appeal as it concerns the class 41-included services, and according to the General Court, the ruling of the Fifth Board of Appeal had not been clear enough that its decision concerned only the gambling and betting services included in class 41.