In the early 1990s, a new sporting activity was introduced in the United States in fitness centers, consisting of a workout on a stationary bike, where people “cycle” on music and at different speeds. An activity that we know better as “spinning”. The company behind spinning, Mad Dogg Athletics Inc., tried to protect the word “spinning” through various trademark registrations.

Fitness centers can acquire the right to use the sign Spinning through expensive licenses. The license agreement contains the obligation for fitness centers to have their instructors trained at Mad Dogg Athletics and purchase their stationary bikes from Mad Dogg Athletics.

Trademark registration for generic names?

On behalf of our client Vereniging Exclusieve Sportcentra “VES” (Association for Exclusive Sports Centers) we have successfully argued before the Benelux Trademark Office and the Court of Appeal that “spinning” is not a valid trademark, or at least has a very limited scope of protection, as the word spinning is used as a generic name for a sporting activity and not as an indication of origin from a specific company.

VES organized the Spin for Life event and was allowed to continue to do so, because the Court of Appeal agreed with us that this sign does not infringe the Mad Dogg trademark.

Later the European Trademark Office cancelled the “spinning” trademark from the trademark register because it was indeed not a valid trademark, but simply a descriptive sign for a sporting activity. Since then, everyone can simply offer spinning without a license and without paying a fee to Mad Dogg Athletics. Spinning became a victim of its own success.

Legal questions

The specialized lawyers of IPLaywers support entrepreneurs with the following:

  • Legal support in the field of protection of words and logos through trademark registrations;
  • Legal support regarding the possible protection of descriptive signs or advice if such signs may be used freely;
  • Legal support in the field of trademark infringement.

Read more about the specialisations of Intellectueel Property Lawyers or make an an appointment.

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