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From Milan to Miami: an Inter-national trademark battle

Football Player
Friday, 17 July 2020 By Jean-François Merdrignac

Major League Soccer (MLS) returned to a faltering start last week after a four month suspension during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a match between Orlando City and Inter Miami held in a biosecure bubble[1]. Meanwhile, FC Dallas was forced to withdraw from the tournament, and its match against Vancouver postponed, after a coronavirus outbreak resulted in 10 players testing positive. The match between Nashville and Chicago Fire was also postponed following the confirmation that five Nashville players had contracted the virus[2].

While action is sparse on the field, the MLS continues to be embroiled in an off-pitch game against Football Club Internazionale Milano (Inter Milan) of Italy’s Serie A – a trademark battle.  This article reviews the case to date, looking specifically at:

  • Trademark rights in MLS
  • The threat from Inter Milan: a game changer?
  • The USPTO’s decision to date: only one part of the story
  • MLS (via Inter Miami) vs. Inter Milan: a battle in its infancy

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Written by

Jean-François Merdrignac

Jean-François Merdrignac

Managing Associate, Linklaters

Jean-François Merdrignac is a senior associate in Linklaters’ IP team in Paris and co-heads the firm’s Sport Sector in France. He advises international clients on their intellectual property rights enforcement strategies and is notably used to manage cross-border patent and trademark litigations. He also assists clients with negotiating and drafting contracts related to intellectual property rights, including sponsorship agreements. He advises banks, private equity funds and companies in all intellectual property issues raised by M&A transactions and complex restructuring operations.

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