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Warning to lawyers: bat logos may keep you very busy

Posted by: Laurence Simons 03/12/14

Spanish football club Valencia has revealed it is no longer being pursued by lawyers from Gotham City.

As a club that has twice reached the final of the Champions League, Valencia are pretty well-known in the football world, but it seems the club's badge - which features a bat - has only recently caught the attention of DC Comics, creator of Batman.

Some might jest this shows something about the American knowledge of football, as Valencia have had the winged creature on the badge since 1922, many years before DC Comics was founded or the Batman character invented.

Nonetheless, news emerged this week that the publisher was keen to pursue a legal action against the club on the grounds that their trademark infringed that of the Caped Crusader. As far as is known, no 'Joker' was involved in this claim.

For Spanish lawyers, this might have been one of the strangest legal cases they have ever had to deal with. Nonetheless, DC are widely reported to have complained to the EU trademark registration body OHIC about the new-look badge, suggesting it was 'Robin' the publisher of its heritage.

Valencia have claimed there is actually nothing to worry about now, as the complaint dates back to 2012 and was connected with a planned clothing range with a redesigned bat logo, which the club scrapped after receiving an 11-page complaint.

It stated: "The new bat design is currently not used - and is not planned for future use - by the club."

So, thankfully Valencia can get back to trying to tackle Gareth Bale instead of Christian Bale.
Even so, the issue may be a touchy one, as there are other brands - such as Bacardi - which display a bat on their logo.

If any British lawyers think this could not happen in the UK, they should consider recent history: Victoria Beckham - whose excuses for not knowing her football history are non-existent given the identity of her husband - once tried to sue Peterborough United over the use of the "Posh" nickname.

Once again, the club had the prior claim and they prevailed, with the club website address www.theposh.com being an example of the moniker's current use.