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Formula One Loses Fight Over Mark in EU Court

(CN) - A company that used the letters "F1" on its website didn't violate Formula One's trademark, a European court ruled.

Formula One is a series of auto races, run by the Formula One Group based out of the United Kingdom.

The group's Netherlands-based subsidiary, Formula One Licensing, challenged an online banner with the words "F1-Live" being used by Racing-Live SAS, which runs a car-racing website in France.

A European trade harmonization office rejected Formula One's challenge, saying that obvious differences between the marks prevented any likelihood of confusion.

Simply combining the letter F with the number 1 can designate a generic association with car racing, the office said. And only Formula One's distinct, graphical logo has a protectable reputation, the office found.

The Luxembourg-based General Court agreed, saying the harmonization office was correct in distinguishing between the use of F1 as a word and as a logo.

The "totally different layout" in the marks, not to mention adding the word "live," prevents any connection with Formula One, the court decided in dismissing the English company's case.

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