TRADEMARK
Artists, Merchandising

Judges in Luxembourg ruled that “Westlife” cannot be registered as an EU trademark – because it is too similar to the word “West”. A German tobacco firm has already trademarked that name and judges said the fact that Germans say “vest” and not “west” did not lessen the confusion with the merchandise of the pop group. Westlife can still go on using their name as well as on merchandise, but it means they cannot protect it as an exclusive trademark. The band applied for an EU trademark in 1999, but the Germany company claimed there was potential confusion because the two sell similar types of merchandise (not least because of West’s involvement in motor racing as a team sponsor selling branded clothing etc). During a five-year legal tussle, lawyers for Westlife argued that there was a clear distinction between the group’s name and the single word West.

See: http://www.itv.com/news/entertainment_1535352.html