Max Verstappen, the Red Bull racing prodigy, encountered an unexpected obstacle in launching his much-anticipated “Max 1” clothing line. The massive global brand, Nike, has raised concerns over potential trademark infringement, citing similarities between the name of Verstappen’s apparel venture and the iconic Nike Air Max shoe series, according to De Limburger.
The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property Weighs In
The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), the trademark authority responsible for the region, has released a report detailing the issues raised by Nike as to why Verstappen’s “Max 1” brand may not get the green light, following a thorough investigation and opposition from the sports clothing brand.
The report states:
“Both signs contain the word MAX, albeit in a different place. In the trademarks invoked, the elements AIR and MAX have equal weight in the overall impression. In the contested sign, the emphasis is on the word MAX. The number 1 will be regarded as a specification of MAX. To that extent, the signs agree.”
Are the Names Too Similar?
Based on the analysis provided by the BOIP, the agency concludes that the names “Max 1” and “Air Max” are too similar.
“The goods in question (Nike and Max) are partly identical and partly similar. Visually and aurally, there is a certain degree of similarity between the signs.
“Based on these and the other factors mentioned above and given their interdependence, the Office considers that there is a likelihood of confusion in the sense that the public may believe that the goods covered by the trademarks invoked and those of the contested sign belong to the same undertaking or, as the case may be, from economically linked companies.”
The Perceived Danger of Confusion
The crux of the matter, as determined by the BOIP, is the potential for confusion among the public. The agency suggests that consumers might assume that Verstappen’s “Max 1” brand is a sub-brand or somehow affiliated with Nike, given the similarities between the names and the common practice of configuring the same mark in different ways in the clothing industry.
“Since it is common practice in the clothing sector for the same mark to be configured in different ways, the relevant public might also think that the contested sign is a sub-mark of the opponent (Nike).”
As Max Verstappen and his team navigate this trademark tangle with Nike, fans eagerly await the resolution of this dispute and the eventual launch of the “Max 1” clothing line, in this form or another.