Irish boyband Westlife have lost their five-year court battle to trademark the band's name - after a judge ruled Westlife is too similar to a German tobacco company's protected brand name, West.

The FLYING WITHOUT WINGS singers applied at a court in Luxembourg for a European Union trademark in 1999, but the West cigarette company complained use of Westlife's name on merchandise would cause confusion with its brand's trademark name.

And Judges at the European Court of First Instance ruled yesterday (03MAY05) that the pop group can continue putting its name on merchandise, but cannot protect it as an exclusive trademark, because the fact Germans pronounce "west" as "vest" does not lessen the confusion.

Westlife's German lawyer REINER PRIETSCH complained, "The difference in length alone has a consequence that no consumer will read or hear 'West' for 'Westlife', or vice versa."

But judges in Luxenbourg concluded, "The relevant public might think that the origin of the goods and services marketed under the Westlife mark is the same as that of the goods and services marketed under the West mark, or at least that there is an economic link between the various companies or undertakings which market them.

"In the light of all the foregoing, and in view of the fact that the goods and services in question are identical or similar, the court finds that there is a likelihood of confusion between the two trademarks."

05/05/2005 03:05