Seven-times F1 champion Lewis Hamilton loses three-year trademark battle with Swatch Group's Hamilton watches brand

By Chantelle Billson | 23 Nov 2020

EU court rejected Lewis Hamilton's bid to stop the 128-year-old watchmaker from trading using the name 'Hamilton'

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* Lewis Hamilton has become a seven-time world Formula 1 champion

F1 champion driver Lewis Hamilton has lost his three-year legal battle against watch brand Hamilton, as an EU court rules that the driver’s management company, 44IP, has no natural right to protect the name Hamilton, which the watchmaker has been using since the 19th Century.

Hamilton’s company 44IP appealed to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) over the use of the name by Swatch Group-owned brand Hamilton International.

The court noted 44IP, “a company holding the intellectual property rights relating to the racing driver Lewis Hamilton”, brought a case in 2017 challenging the scope of the registration and arguing fair competition had been impeded. This was rejected, and 44IP appealed against the decision in February.

The EUIPO ruled: “The argument relating to the IP rights of the racing driver ‘Lewis Hamilton’ fails.

“The contested mark consists solely of one word ‘HAMILTON’, and not ‘LEWIS HAMILTON’. It is a rather common surname in English-speaking countries. >>

“There is no “natural right” for a person to have his or her own name registered as a trademark, when that would infringe third parties’ rights.”

Founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892, the watchmaking company registered the term ‘Hamilton’ in 2014 for a range of goods, giving them exclusive rights to use the Hamilton name on accessories worldwide.

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion’s company 44IP has been attempting to trademark his name for goods including smartwatches, watches and jewellery.

Hamilton’s efforts in the court may not have lead to success, but his recent victory at the Turkish Grand Prix put him at the top of the F1 sport with Michael Schumacher. If Hamilton wins all three remaining races of the 2020 season he will go on to match Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s record for 13 race wins in a single season.