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Pinterest in the scrap book? The Trade Mark Dispute

Written by Saowanee Kristin on 28 February 2014

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Pinterest was the world’s largest growing social media site in 2013, topping 70 million active users, according to statistics from Search Engine Watch. Naturally, Pinterest has taken steps to protect their brand and intellectual property and engaged in a trade mark dispute with company Premium Interest who attempted to register a trade mark with the same name.

The services of London based company Premium Interest include an online new digest resource where the reader is in charge of selecting and raking the news, rather than the online editor. The company describes itself on its website as “Sharing realtime events about what's happening on the planet, with news you choose to be in”.

When Premium Interest filed an application for Community trade mark (CTM) ‘Pinterest’ in January 2012, Pinterest lodged an opposition but did not have any earlier registered trade mark rights in Europe upon which they could rely to support their case. Pinterest could not demonstrate that on the date of application, the company was well known enough to prevent Premium Interest’s trade application for the name ‘Pinterest’ from being granted. The Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) ruled that there was not enough evidence to support public awareness of the brand, although the social media site presented documents and press reports in which Pinterest had been mentioned.

Pinterest lost the trade mark dispute at OHIM with Premium Interest- What happens now? Will a social media giant with 70 million users be forced to change its name?

The future for Pinterest

OHIM’s controversial decision will produce difficulties for the social media site, and will certainly hinder the company’s European expansion.  Pinterest will most likely appeal the decision, or potentially face having to seek a licence from Premium Interest for the use of the trade mark. The worst case scenario is that Pinterest, a top 5 social media site may have to change its name here in the EU. This is a primary example of a business failing to register its name as a trade mark in time- when setting up a business, ensure that your intellectual property is protected properly, and before it is too late.

This article was written by Saowanee Kristin, who works part time for Lawdit.

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