November 2017. Not just Tesla, Baidu and Lehman Brothers, but Elizabeth, Janet and Alexander too. These are just a few of the 2,500 trademarks registered in many countries over the past two years by the mysterious Michael Gleissner. The precise commercial strategy behind this huge number of registrations is unclear.
400 Benelux Trademarks
World Trademark Review magazine recently examined the extensive number of trademarks registered by German businessman and ex-producer Michael Gleissner, most of whose registrations (over 750) were taken out in the US under various company names. He has also registered 650 trademarks in the UK and nearly 400 in the Benelux and Portugal.
First names, letter combinations and trademarks
Mr Gleissner appears to be fairly arbitrary in his approach. What is striking, however, is the large number of first names he’s registered – from Sandra and Peter to Vanessa and Nadine. Another favourite appears to be random letter combinations, such as JHX, BQT and DMY. Not to mention some well-known trademarks, including ‘Trump TV’ in the UK. The vast majority of these trademarks are registered in the name of his Belgian company CKL.
The earnings model underlying this vast money-eating operation is completely mystifying. Presumably Mr Gleissner eventually intends to sell or license these trademarks. But a trademark is generally only worth having when it’s built up sufficient goodwill through use and familiarity. The value of a registration in itself is highly doubtful, in my view.
All Mr Gleissner seems to be attracting at the moment is grief and costly legal challenges, given that many of his applications are being opposed by owners of similar, pre-existing trademarks. Thirteen oppositions have already been filed against him at the European Trademark Office EUIPO, and many more fierce struggles are going on behind the scenes. In the UK, DTTM Operations LLC, the company that manages Donald Trump’s trademark rights, has also filed an opposition to Gleissner’s application to register Trump TV.
Another problem is the issue of use, since the right to a trademark can only be maintained if it is actually used. Trademarks that aren’t used within a five-year period may lapse (at least in Europe). It’s very likely that many of these 2,500 trademarks won’t be used in the next few years, which means they could soon be worthless.