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EU Court Rules Against Nike in Trademark Dispute with Puma

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The General Court of the European Union, the second-highest court in the EU, has denied Nike’s trademark application and ordered the company to cover Puma’s legal expenses. Nike had sought to trademark “Footware,” a blend of “foot” and “software” or “hardware,” for a range of tech-related products. Nike can appeal this ruling to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.

A spokeswoman for Puma, a German company, expressed satisfaction with the decision, emphasizing Puma’s longstanding argument that consumers might confuse “footware” with “footwear,” perceiving it as descriptive rather than a trademark. This ruling comes after a series of legal disputes with competing sportswear companies. Nike had filed for the “footware” trademark in the US, UK, and Europe in 2019. While the UK High Court ruled in Nike’s favor in mid-2021, allowing the trademark despite Puma’s objections, the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board blocked Nike’s application earlier this year. San Antonio Shoemakers, a sneaker manufacturer, had successfully argued that “footware” and “footwear” were often used interchangeably, making the term merely descriptive.