Big Limburg brother

Let me start by saying that I do understand The Limburger’s anger. It is of course very irritating when a direct competitor also starts using such a blue and white logo. Why not choose a different color or color combination? In the press, the director of L1 says that they have “given considerable thought to the recently implemented repositioning and new house style” . That may be, but you can’t tell me that they didn’t realize at L1 that its big Limburg brother also wears a blue and white jacket.

Logo L1 en De Limburger

Identical services

Having said that, the question naturally arises: is there also trademark infringement? Will the consumer cofuse both icons? I still find it quite difficult to predict. What speaks in favor of The Limburger is that L1 is a direct competitor. It concerns identical services: bringing news in the provence of Limburg. In trademark law, the rule is that if products or services are very close to each other, there can easily be trademark infringement. Even if the marks are a bit more distant from each other, it can still be confusing.

Abstract figurative mark

Still, I think The Limburger will ultimately fall just short of this case. First of all, a blue and white icon is not very distinctive in itself. There are more of those, also for news apps. But more importantly, in my opinion, these trademarks are just not sufficiently similar. That L1 logo mainly comes across to me as an abstract logo. Only after explanation did I understand that you can also read L1 in it. Are consumers going to confuse these news apps? Not as far as I’m concerned.

Blauw witte nieuwsapps
Blue and white is popular among news companies.

A bit of imitation is allowed

And even if L1 has chosen its new trademark with the aim of being somewhat similar to The Limberger logo, that in itself is not grounds for speaking of trademark infringement. Assuming The Limburger-logo is not a well-known brand, a bit of imitation is allowed, as long as it is not confusing. The judge will rule in the course of May. Then let’s see if I got this dime on its side right.

Bas Kist


This article was published on Adformatie on April 23, 2024.

Postscript: court appears to have ruled early. On 2 May, De Limburger announced that L1 had won the court case: L1 does not have to change the icon of its news app. The judge’s reasoning has not yet been published.

Bas Kist is mede-oprichter van Merkenbureau Chiever. Hij schrijft regelmatig artikelen over merken- en auteursrecht in de Volkskrant en Adformatie. Daarnaast is hij docent bij de European Institute for Brand management EURIB.