Italian brothers Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato won a trademark battle against Apple to call their company "Steve Jobs," the name of Apple's founder, who passed away in October 2011.
The trademark dispute started in 2012. The brothers started a clothing line and accessory company and decided "Steve Jobs" would be the perfect name for the new company. Apple and Steve Jobs' heirs apparently did not register trademarks on the "Steve Jobs" name and mark.
This decision highlights the importance of exploring foreign trademark protections for key trademarks and trade names. This case also suggests that Italian law does not recognize a claim for misappropriation of likeness or celebrity, which protects the goodwill of a public figure and generally prevents third parties from commercializing the likeness for gain. Misappropriation of likeness is sometimes referred to as right of publicity. Recent cases have involved NCAA athletes and deceased actors that re-appear in films through CGI.
In addition to Thriving Attorney, Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charity devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time. Click to read more about Darin Klemchuk's practice as an intellectual property lawyer.