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  • Writer's pictureMarie-Avril Roux Steinkühler

Trademark law and likelihood of confusion: META's THREADS application in trouble in Europe

META (FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and WHATSAPP) has launched a new application similar in concept to X (ex-TWITTER). The application allows users to share short publications ranging from 500-character texts to videos of up to 5 minutes. Available on iOS and Android, it has already attracted over 100 million users in less than a week after its lunch. Its delayed launch in Europe, due to incompatibility with data collection laws and the DMA, also led to confusion with an app of the same name.


I.          Confusion between two identical signs: the case of THREADS

A platform called THREADS, specialized in team communication within companies, unwillingly took advantage of the popularity of META's new application. European users, unable to access the new social network from their home region, flocked to the business application of the same name. As a result, the platform saw a significant increase in downloads and visits to its website.

A single small domain extension differentiates (launched by INSTAGRAM) from (the collaborative software), which explains some of the confusion among users. The latter has added the statement "We are not associated with Instagram" to its website.


II.         The difference between META's THREADS trademark and its European namesake


A.         THREADS and the principle of specialty in trademark law


Under the principle of specialty, a trademark is protected only for the goods and services designated at the time of registration. The owner of a trademark cannot oppose the registration of an identical or similar sign for different goods and services.

In the case of the THREADS trademarks, the two companies do not offer the same goods and services, but are engaged in different activities, namely a social network on the one hand and software on the other.

Thus, the THREADS software trademark is registered in classes 9 ("downloadable computer software for creating, sharing and searching content for users of the platform") and 42 ("platform as a service for project management and collaboration in the technology and media sectors").

Consequently, in the absence of similarity between the goods or services protected by the sign, the earlier trademark (THREADS software) cannot, in principle, oppose the registration of the other. An opposition cannot be filed against a trademark from any country.


Read our article about trademark and copyright protection in the USA 


B.         THREADS and the principle of territoriality in trademark law


The principle of territoriality in trademark law states that a trademark is protected only in the territory of the country or countries designated in its registration. A trademark owner cannot oppose the registration of identical or similar trademarks in a country where his trademark is not registered.

META's THREADS is registered only in the United States, where its namesake is registered in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

In any event, it is only in the United States that the owner of the earlier THREADS mark could seek to oppose the registration of META's mark.

This case illustrates the complexity and difficulty of effectively protecting a trademark everywhere. It is important to ask the right questions: What products and services will your trademark cover? In what territories is it appropriate to protect your mark? And, of course, which sign to choose? Our European law firm MARS - IP specializes in trademark law and is ready to assist you in this complex process. Contact us today for a personalized consultation.

Markenrecht und Verwechslungsgefahr: METAs THREADS Anmeldung in Europa in Schwierigkeiten

META (FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM oder auch WHATSAPP) hat eine neue Anwendung mit einem ähnlichen Konzept wie X (früher TWITTER) auf den Markt gebracht. Mit dieser Anwendung können die Nutzer kurze Beiträge austauschen, die von Texten mit 500 Zeichen bis hin zu Videos mit einer Länge von bis zu 5 Minuten reichen können. Sie ist über iOS und Android zugänglich und konnte in weniger als einer Woche bereits mehr als 100 Millionen Nutzer verzeichnen. Die verspätete Einführung in Europa aufgrund der Unvereinbarkeit mit den Rechtsvorschriften zur Datenerhebung und zum Datenschutz hat auch zu Verwechslungen mit einer gleichnamigen App geführt.



Paloma Kerbaol

Marie-Avril Roux Steinkühler


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