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Special protection for ‘Special K’?

Recent infringement proceedings raise interesting questions regarding the extent of protection that should be granted to a trade mark, writes Mike Shaw

19 July 2017

The pending legal action commenced against the tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis in Australia regarding his nickname ‘Special K’ illustrates the potential breadth of protection enjoyed by well-known trade marks.

Kellogg’s has recently initiated trade mark infringement proceedings in Australia against Kokkinakis in response to his attempts to protect and extend the use of his nickname ‘Special K’. Kokkinakis has adopted the moniker that plays on the well-known breakfast cereal produced by Kellogg’s and has allegedly expressed his intention to commercialise the name through use in relation to a range of merchandise including clothing and sports equipment. Kellogg’s clearly sees such steps as a threat to its own trade mark and has taken steps to challenge Kokkinakis.

Although the action is still in its early stages, the case does raise i...

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