Forbes versus Forbes

22 November 2019

In trademark law, it’s first come, first served. This principle also applies to anyone who wants to use his own name (prename or surname) as a brand. It is not that you can use Apple in commerce just because your name is Apple!

Take the recent example of Forbes. Alexander Forbes is the name of a South African company that provides financial services. The Alexander Forbes trademark was already registered in the European Union for, among other things, the publishing of printed matter (class 41).

Forbes is also the name of a famous American magazine, founded by B.C. Forbes. Forbes (from the magazine) has filed its FORBES trademark in the European Union in class 41.

That led to a clash in class 41. Because Alexander Forbes had earlier trademark rights, the request from Forbes (the magazine) was refused for most services in class 41, despite the fact that Forbes is named after B.C. Forbes. And even though Forbes is a well-known magazine.

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