BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi may register his name as a trademark for sports equipment and clothing, the EU's second highest court said, as he was famous enough to overcome phonetic similarities with Spanish bicycle clothing brand Massi.
The case reached the EU General Court after the Spanish brand successfully complained to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
The EUIPO said that Messi and Massi were almost identical visually and phonetically and some would find it difficult to the tell the two apart, but the court disagreed.
"Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio," the court said on Thursday.
Widely considered one of the world's greatest soccer players, Lionel Messi, 30, scored his 600th professional goal last month and is the all-time highest scorer for both Barcelona and Argentina's national team.
The court said that even though some people may not know Lionel Messi, this was unlikely to be the case for those buying sports equipment.
Massi can still appeal the decision at the EU Court of Justice.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Angus MacSwan)