Own name defence: a global perspective

By Baker & McKenzie’s global IP team

In many countries people or even companies have a defence to trademark infringement when using their own names. In this article Baker & McKenzie’s global IP team outlines where an own name defence exists and whether this extends to company names

In many countries it is possible to defend against a charge of trademark infringement by countering that the party involved is using its own name. With around 20% of the world’s top 100 brands made up of recognised surnames, it can be hard to know whether third-party use of a mark that is also a name can be prevented. Take into account that in many countries, this defence extends to company names and the position of brand owners becomes even more complex. In general, this kind of use can be defended only where it is in good faith or in accordance with honest practices – a notoriously difficult standard to apply.

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Issue 74