Did they check?
Enie is not a customer of Chiever, but still, our brand heart always skips a beat with something like this. Did they check it properly? Is Enie about to hear from a lawyer and will it have to change its name within a week?
Let’s take a look at the trademark register. That’s where it gets interesting. The large (French) Engie, which was called GDF Suez until 2015, appears to have a European trademark registration of the wordmark Engie with priority date: 31 March 2015.
And to our surprise, the Dutch Enie appears to own a Benelux trademark registration of the Enie trademark since 10 March 2015. That’s just 21 days older than Engie’s European claim!
Engie in danger?
So our heart started racing too quickly. Or did it? Maybe it should have skipped a beat for Engie. Because in trademark law the rule is: first come, first serve … Regardless of whether you’re a French multinational or a local player from a small city in the Netherlands. Before you know it, a firm letter of summons will be delivered in the stately hall of Engie’s head office in Paris, in which Enie, in a friendly yet urgent tone, requests that the confusing name Engie be changed immediately in the Benelux. But that’s all a bit speculative, we don’t know the backgrounds. Maybe there’s been a deal for a long time or they’re both just fine with it. Not every infringement has to lead to a conflict.
After a story like that, the tips are obvious:
1 – multinational or family business, it doesn’t matter, in trademark law the rule applies to everyone: first come, first serve
2 – if you are entering the market with a new trademark, check the existance of older rights. Before you know it, you’ve got a huge problem on your hands. Just a few examples from the Netherlands: Atos Origin once had to pay through the nose because someone else’s name was already Atos, Cisco luckily crawled through the eye of the needle in a conflict with an older family business Cisco, and the soccer stadium Amsterdam Arena had to pay millions to buy off the rights of Hotel Arena. Better to check in advance.