This time it was Manu’s turn to lose. We are not talking about a court contest, but about Court dispute, wherein the famous sportsman filed an opposition to prevent Barreneche S.A., a bread manufacturing company, from registering “MANU” as a trademark to differentiate the products pertaining to his line of business.
The basketball player registered the trademarks “MANU GINÓBILI” —in class 3 (Cosmetics & perfumery), 25 (clothing & footwear), 28 (playthings & sporting articles), 33 (alcoholic beverages), 35 (Advertising)— and “MANU” in class 25. The dispute emerged when Gabriel Barreneche applied to register the before-mentioned nickname in class 30 (flour & preparations made from cereals) to identify the products he manufactures and commercializes, such as bread, toasts, bread sticks, pre-cooked pizza bases and puddings.
As grounds for the opposition, Ginóbili claimed that his trademarks can be defined as well-known and therefore, enjoy special protection that would give the green light to cross the boundaries of the trademark classification system and extending the possibility to hamper the registration of similar applications in those classes where he had no trademark registration. Additionally, he argued that said registration might result in discrediting his own trademarks.
The trial judge —in a single-instance court—however, deemed the basketball player’s name and career to be well-known and widely known by consumers as opposed to his trademarks. Ginóbili fail to prove that he had used his trademarks to identify any product or service, and accordingly, the trademarks cannot be regarded as well-known as their owner.
Regarding the trademark comparison, the trial judge stated that, since the marks are classified in different classes, “MANU GINÓBILI” and “MANU” vs. “MANU”, there is no likelihood of confusion. Furthermore, he reckoned “Manu” to be the shorthand name for Manuel, Manuela, Emmanuel or Emanuel and consequently, said short-form name shall not be subject to exclusive ownership. Moreover, said shorthand name had already been comprehended by several trademarks in the classification system in the name of various proprietors. Thus it is a commonly used term that cannot be monopolized.
On this occasion, Ginobili’s fame and dexterity have fallen short of success.