F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton Loses Trademark Battle Over Name ‘Hamilton’

Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has lost a three-year legal battle with a Swiss luxury watchmaker over the trademark “Hamilton.”

Lawyers representing the seven-time Formula One champion had been trying to prevent Hamilton International from registering the trademark throughout Europe, which it attempted to do in 2017. Hamilton’s company, 44IP, claimed the watchmaker had done so “in bad faith” and to thwart “fair competition”.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled against Hamilton’s company. The Hamilton International name goes back to 1892, when the company was established in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The company moved to Switzerland in 2003.

The court pointed out the Hamilton International watches, previously worn by the likes of Elvis Presley, have had the name on well before the Formula One driver was born in 1985. The watchmaker was able to provide evidence of using the name since its foundation.

The court verdict said: “The argument relating to the IP rights of the racing driver ‘Lewis Hamilton’ fails.

“The contested mark consists solely of one word ‘HAMILTON’, and not ‘LEWIS HAMILTON’. It is a rather common surname in English-speaking countries.

“There is no ‘natural right’ for a person to have his or her own name registered as a trademark, when that would infringe third parties’ rights.

“Even the cancellation applicant explicitly accepted that the contested mark ‘HAMILTON’ had been used since 1892, i.e. even before the date of birth of ‘Lewis Hamilton’ as a natural person.

“No bad faith can be found on the part of the EU trademark proprietor. In fact, the EU trademark proprietor demonstrated a significant economic activity in the horological field since 1892.”

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