Name calling: ESL falls foul of trademark rules as Danes win EU case

March 14 – The controversial European Super League (ESL) breakaway project has faced a crucial legal setback after the European Union’s trademark authority prevented it from registering its name since it is already owned by Denmark’s top-tier Superliga.

In December, the European Court of Justice decided that UEFA and FIFA broke EU competition rules by attempting to block the seemingly doomed breakaway league, seemingly opening the door again for a challenge to the Champions League.

But the latest ruling means a possible future super league will have to call itself something else after the EU ruled in favour of the Superligaen A/S, a trademark jointly owned by Danish clubs.

It transpires that European Super League Company S.L. had attempted to register their trademark in the EU but the Superligaen believed that this would be an infringement.

The EU’s Intellectual Property Office based in Alicante, Spain agreed, giving the existing trademark approval to continue by saying the ESL’s move was “conceptually identical” to the Super Liga in Denmark – thereby effectively ending the ESL’s ability to operate under ‘The Super League’ name.

The ESL can, of course, appeal the decision, although it has not been stated whether or not it will. However, if that too fails then the body will have no other option but to change its name entirely.

Claus Thomsen, chief executive of the Danish Superliga, stated: “We are very happy that the EU’s trademark authority has agreed that the trademark ‘The Super League’ in the EU will violate the value that the Danish clubs have invested in 3F Superliga.”

“We have always been against the big clubs’ desire for a new European league.

“We believe there must be openness and qualification for international club tournaments via national competitions. Football should not be a closed party for clubs that do not dare to participate in an open competition, so of course we are extra happy about this victory outside the pitch.”

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