Tour de France loses trademark fight with German gym chain, EU court sees no confusion

BRUSSELS, June 12 (Reuters) – French company Societe du Tour de France lost a trademark fight against a German gym chain on Wednesday when a court ruled people were unlikely to confuse the famed bicycle race Tour de France with a similar phrase for the gym’s clothes and services.
Societe du Tour de France had taken its grievance to Europe’s second top court after the European patent office EUIPO allowed FitX to trademark a figurative sign Tour de X for its goods and services including games, toys and sporting equipment.
The French company holds the right to the expression TOUR DE FRANCE or LE TOUR DE FRANCE for its goods and services. The Tour de France is a prestigious annual men’s multi-stage bicycle race held primarily in France.
The Luxembourg-based General Court on Wednesday sided with EUIPO and dismissed Societe du Tour de France’s challenge.
“The public will not confuse the marks despite the identity or similarity of the goods and services,” judges said.
“The only common element between the marks – ‘tour de’ – has a weak distinctive character and the degree of similarity between the marks is low,” they said.
They said that element is a descriptive expression which is very commonly used in cycling competitions and similar events and has very little, if any, distinctive character.
The ruling can be appealed on points of law to the Court of Justice of the European Union, Europe’s highest.