Pinterest name belongs to a social news startup - EU Trademark Office

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Jan 03, 2014 03:44 AM EST

Social networking startup Pinterest will need to hurdle a major block with regard to their international market expansion plans. According to a report by TechCrunch, the US-based social networking site has lost a ruling in Europe regarding the claim of the Pinterest brand in the region. The ruling handed down by a European trademark court, European Commission's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, Trade Marks and Designs Division, declared that the owner of the Pinterest trademark brand should be founder Alex Hearn and Premium Interest, his London-based social news aggregation startup.

Pinterest recently raised $225 million round in October of last year to help the company expand in international markets.

Law firm Mishcon de Reya partner Adam Morallee, whose company represented Hearn and Premium Interest, has said, "Pinterest will have to change their name if they don't get a licence from him." The ruling also guaranteed Hearn rights to the Pinterest trademark in other markets like in Australia.

A Pinterest spokesperson said the company will be fighting for its right for the brand name. He told TechCrunch, "We plan to appeal the recent decision."

TechCrunch noted in its report that the rejection of the US startup's claim to the name was probably due to timing. Although Pinterest was active at the time Premium Interest filed a trademark in January two years ago, the US startup has yet to under officially into the European market, therefore missing its opportunity to file a trademark. The blog Mark Matters noted that prior to Pinterest filing a trademark in the US, Premium Interest had already filed a trademark in Europe two months early.

Hearns said about its trademark filing, "(Filing the Pinterest mark was) standard practice to protect intellectual property once we start to work on it. We do have great respect Pinterest Inc's worldwide rights, but also we respect our rights too!" he says. "There is no mistake their growth has been rapid over the past 18 months, from unknown to megastars, and this has posed the problem in trademark use we have today in the EU and beyond."

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