Squeeze on Magnum’s slogan
Unilever has been refused registration in the Benelux for its Release the Beast trademark after the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled it was too similar to Unleash the Beast, an older brand owned by drinks manufacturer Monster Energy. Unilever uses the slogan in its international advertising campaign for Magnum ice creams.
Initial win for Unilever
The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) initially ruled that there was no trademark infringement since the two slogans related to different goods: ice creams versus beverages. However, at the end of July the Court of Appeal reached a different conclusion.
The Court’s view is that legally, ice creams and drinks should be considered as similar products, in that they are in competition with each other and are to some extent interchangeable. After all, if you want to cool down you’ll buy a drink or an ice cream. They’re also sold through the same distribution channels and there’s a growing trend for drinks companies to sell ice cream through what are known as line extensions. Hence the risk that the trademarks Unleash the Beast and Release the Beast could be confused.
The dispute goes beyond the Benelux, with the brand also coming under fire in the EU. Again, Unilever initially triumphed but the case has now gone to appeal.