Monday, August 29, 2011

A Filipino trademark confusion tale

Marlon Stockinger for GLOBE TATTOO TONINO LAMBORGHINI - The Fastest Broadband Stick
A somewhat odd tale of trademark misuse in the Philippines is instructive at how IP holders must be vigilant of brand misuse around the world. Globe Telecom Inc.’s use of the “Tonino Lamborghini” brand to market its newest mobile broadband Internet sticks is alleged to be a trademark violation. Tonino Lamborghini s.r.l. of Italy, issued a statement threatening legal action over the sale through Globe stores of a ‘4G Tattoo Tonino Lamborghini’ broadband internet stick (see picture). Tonino Lamborghini is an Italian watch maker, not to be confused with the Italian Lamborghini car company.  Globe Telecom’s response was  that it was a “misunderstanding” since they claimed to be licensed through a Singapore licensee of the Italian company. However the marketing campaign, which featured Filipino-Swiss formula car racer Marlon Stockinger as its endorser, appeared to be aimed to take advantage of the Lamborghini name in relation to fast cars. A host of issues arise. Firstly the unusual exploitation of the fact that the watch company must live a precarious life avoiding confusion with the famous car company is interesting. Also that this is a serious listed Filipino company says something of a lack of robust internal IP policy, which is common in domestic companies in this part of the world. And of course the fact that the local IP infrastructure is so weak that Tonino Lamborghini chose the practical approach of public embarrassment rather than going to court, where a case could have languished for years!

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