Jun 9, 2017

Australian tennis star in court battle

Two unlikely parties, Australian tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis and cereal giant, Kellogg's, have become embroiled in a legal dispute in Australia. But what do these two parties have to argue about?

Kellogg's produces a cereal brand called Special K, which it introduced 1955 in the US and which has become well known globally since.  Special K is targeted towards dieters and those wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle. The Guardian reported that a spokeswoman for Kellogg's in Australia stated "Special K is … an iconic cereal brand for Kellogg's in Australia". Kellogg's is the proprietor of a registered trade mark for Special K, reportedly registered over fifty years ago.

Kokkinakis, who recently competed in the French Open tennis tournament, has adopted the nickname Special K, predominantly in tennis and sporting circles. Kellogg's has taken issue with Kokkinakis seeking to use the mark Special K, not only as a nickname but also commercially as part of a potential branding campaign. According to the BBC, a spokeswoman for Kellogg's "The Kokkinakis Company has applied to register Special K as a trademark and we are defending our trademark". According to the Guardian, the case has been allocated to a mediation conference in October, by a Justice of the Federal Court in Adelaide.

Kokkinakis appears to be seeking to follow in the footsteps of other tennis stars who have made enormous financial gains from commercialising brands built around their name or image, such as Federer and Nadal. It will be interesting to see whether it will be game, set, and match to Kellogg's, or whether the parties reach mutually agreeable settlement terms.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: News, Trade Marks

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