Michael Gleissner: The “infamous troll” who upended the trademark industry

When WTR first reported on the portfolio-building activities of multi-millionaire businessman Michael Gleissner in 2016, there was an overarching sense of disbelief at the sheer scale of his operations.

Gleissner first appeared on the radars of brand professionals after a series of domain name disputes, but the revelation that he owned a complex web of thousands of trademarks around the world threw the entrepreneur firmly into the industry limelight.

It was not just the number of trademarks that was staggering, it was the sweeping nature of the terms being sought for protection. With trademark applications covering more than 2,000 individual words, a multitude of brands risked coming into conflict with this elusive applicant. Anyone with a brand or product that included so much as a reference to a colour, an animal or any number of linguistic sub-sets in its name was vulnerable to Gleissner’s attentions.

Over the years, the activities of the Philippines-based entrepreneur have continued to confound and baffle those who analyse them. Why has Gleissner been linked to a trademark for EUIPO and a fake TMview website? Why the numerous legal battles targeting well-known brands such as Apple and British Airways? Why would he take on Donald Trump in a dispute over the mark TRUMP TV? How and why was he single-handedly responsible for over 40% of trademark filings in Latvia in the space of a year?

Throughout our time reporting on Gleissner, there have often been more questions than answers. We have, of course, repeatedly reached out to him to get his perspective and hopefully shed some light on his motives. But to date, we have never heard back from him. As the following pages will reveal, the purpose behind his unprecedented portfolio building may no longer be the mystery that it once was, but it continues to be an expensive headache for many brand owners.

Here, we outline why Gleissner’s domain name and trademark filing activity should be on every rights holder’s agenda – and what you can do to minimise the potential risks involved.

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