Now that the content sharing and networking site Pinterest speeded up its expansion plans into Europe, one major obstacle seems exclusively hampering San Fransisco based startup’s ambitons in the old continent. An EU trademark court has rejected the filing by Pinterest and ruled that the rights belong to London-based Premium Interest, a mobile social news aggregation startup owned by Alex Hearn.
It appears that the trademark rights of ‘Pinterest’ have been acquired in the EU zone by the UK company some 2 months before Pinterest has even filed its trademark application with US authorities.
Rejecting Pinterest’s appeal ‘on its own entirety’, The European Commission’s Office for Harmonization and in the Internal Market, Trademarks and Design Division (OHIM) seems to have applied the ‘first come, first served’ rule. However, there still may be a way out, though a slightly narrow one, for Pinterest. A spokesperson from the company said that they will appeal the ruling, based on the claims that Pinterest has already been well-known in the UK and other EU countries long before January 2012 when Premium Interest got its trademark rights.
But to proceed with the appeal, Pinterest’s lawyers will have to submit the proof to the court, probably in the form of officially recognized statistics about their user base and ‘successful’ commercial activities in the continent. And even if they do so, it is still not guaranteed they will win the case as the OHIM tend to discard size and success in trademark issues. What make it even worse is Pinterest’s failure to submit these data even in its first filing for the trademark.
There may be some other options too, though not pronounceable yet by the US company. They may seek the licencing for the mark from the British rivals, or even buying it all together. Both seems viable as Pinterest, with more than 3.8 billion USD market value reached upon a recent 225m investment from Fidelity Investments, have enough funds to go for the transaction.