Melodifestivalen vs. Schlagerfestivalen and Schlager-SM
Sveriges Television (SVT) is the Swedish public service television company. Since 1959 SVT has been broadcasting the immensely popular music competition Melodifestivalen. Melodifestivalen is the Swedish qualification for the European Song Contest, and the programme is each year one of the most watched TV programmes in Sweden. The record was set in 2006 when the finale was watched by 4.2 million viewers. Every year since 2000, about 85% of the Swedish population between 3 and 99 years has watched any of Melodifestivalen heats or final programmes. Melodifestivalen is a registered trademark, owned by SVT, for a large number of goods and services, including entertainment, information about entertainment, and presentation of live performances.
Kanal 5 AB (Channel 5) filed two trademark applications for Schlagerfestivalen and Schlager-SM with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PTO), which the PTO approved. The trademark applications included the same goods and services as SVT’s trademark registration Melodifestivalen, and they also have a similar meaning in Swedish. Channel 5 now owned two registrations that competed with the beloved trademark Melodifestivalen.
The new trademarks could create confusion for viewers. At the request of SVT we objected against the registrations Schlagerfestivalen and Schlager-SM, and demanded that they be revoked. We submitted extensive and strategically selected arguments and evidence in SVT’s advantage, which demonstrated the television programme’s spread and the trademark’s awareness. This was countered by Channel 5 through their legal representatives.
With our argumentation SVT was successful in the disputes. The PTO noted in its decisions that Melodifestivalen is an established trademark which is well known in the so-called relevant public. Furthermore, the PTO stated that Melodifestivalen thereby has enhanced protection regarding entertainment, information about entertainment, and presentation of live performances. The PTO noted that Schlagerfestivalen is visually, phonetically and by association similar to Melodifestivalen, at the same time as it relates to identical goods and services. Therefore, there is a likelihood of confusion between the trademarks. The PTO decided to revoke Channel 5’s registration for Schlagerfestivalen.
Regarding Schlager-SM the PTO however stated that the trademarks are not confusingly similar. However, the PTO stressed that Melodifestivalen is known in a substantial part of the relevant public and that it would make a link between the trademarks, which are conceptually similar and have a strong connection regarding entertainment. Schlager-SM would draw unlawful advantage of the reputation of Melodifestivalen, a reputation that SVT has built over many decades. The use of Schlager-SM would also be detrimental to the distinctive character of Melodifestivalen. With this in mind the PTO also revoked the registration of Schlager-SM regarding entertainment, cultural services, and artistic services.
"Since Melodifestivalen is so well known among the Swedish population we could through arguments and evidence walk away successful from the disputes."
Master of Laws
European Trademark and Design Attorney
+46 8 729 91 05