December 2019. Who doesn’t recognise the Messerschmitt three-wheeler car, designed in 1952 by aviation pioneer Wilhelm Messerschmitt? Production ended in 1964, so anyone below the age of 50 might not have heard of it, but for the over-50s among us, the Messerschmitt is a design icon.
The Messerschmitt Foundation, established by Wilhelm Messerschmitt in 1969, still in fact owns a European trademark registration to the name Messerschmitt for cars, among other products. Or, to put it more accurately, owned a trademark registration.
That’s because in October this year, EUIPO concluded that the registration was invalid since the Foundation hadn’t used the trademark for 5 years. If you don’t use your trademark, you can lose your registration.
The Foundation defended itself, pointing out that preparations had recently been made to launch a new three-wheeled vehicle. However, EUIPO replied that the name being used for it wasn’t Messerschmitt but Veloschmitt, so this didn’t count.
Anyone who checks the register will see that the Austrian company KSR, which filed the cancellation against Messerschmitt, has its own application underway for the name Messerschmitt. All of which shows it’s perfectly possible to appropriate attractive old-established trademarks.