Knut IP Management Limited v. Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market

    October 2013
    The General Court was called to decide on a trade mark conflict in relation to a polar bear with the name Knut who rose to stardom in Berlin Zoo where the bear was kept in captivity from 2006 until his untimely death in 2011. Rejected by his mother at birth, Knut was raised by zoo keepers. After a German tabloid newspaper covered the cub’s story in December 2006, Knut became the centre of a mass media phenomenon that broke all records in Germany and around the globe. Knut’s birth was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue for Berlin Zoo in 2007. Attendance figures alone rose by an estimated 30%. It is, therefore, not surprising that Berlin Zoo sought to capitalise on the success story of raising a polar bear cub in captivity and soon protected the bear’s name as a trade mark in Germany. It is equally unsurprising that third parties attempted to ride on the coattail of that success.