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Footballer Lionel Messi wins epic legal battle to trademark his name

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In this June 6, 2015 file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi smiles to his mirror in the trophy after winning the Champions League final football match against Juventus.
In this June 6, 2015 file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi smiles to his mirror in the trophy after winning the Champions League final football match against Juventus.   -   Copyright  Martin Meissner/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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A European court has paved the way for Lionel Messi to register his surname as a trademark after an epic nine-year legal battle by the Argentine football star.

Messi, one of the most famous footballers in the world, first applied to trademark his name in 2011, in order to launch his own sportswear brand.

But the move was opposed by a Spanish cycling company, Massi, which argued that consumers could be confused by the similarities between the two logos.

The spat has been in the European courts ever since, with Massi lodging a successful challenge with the EU's intellectual property body, EUIPO, in 2013. Messi appealed unsuccessfully to EUIPO in 2014, and then took the case to `the General Court of the European Union.

In 2018, the General Court agreed with Messi, ruling that the footballer's profile was such that it would be impossible for a potential customer to confuse his name with Massi.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice agreed, dismissing appeals to the General Court's 2018 decision by EUIPO and Massi.

Messi was named world player of the year by FIFA five times between 2009 and 2015 and has won six Ballon d'Ors during his 20-year career at Barcelona.