Jabulani.com – Can Adidas score a trademark case at the WIPO?

Jabulani - the official World Cup 2010 soccer ball by Adidas.

Executive summary:

This is a tale of two identical trademarks, one for a soccer ball and one for wine. And while the oldest one is for the wine, it’s being used on the web against the ball’s rights.

Jabulani means “to celebrate” in the Zulu language, spoken by 10 million people in Africa.

Known for its raw, powerful environment, the ancient African continent has been the inspiration for many creations, including the tale of Tarzan.

It is no tale that Adidas, the sports equipment giant chose ‘Jabulani’ as the name of their new product – the most advanced and perfectly round soccer ball ever created.

Despite numerous reports that the new soccer ball is apt to change directions in an unpredictable manner inconsistent with the standard aerodynamics of regular official balls, Jabulani is one of the newest trademarks owned by Adidas.

Approved for registration just on time for the World Cup 2010 and its official introduction to a major soccer even, the Jabulani trademark is about soccer balls.

Adidas came in second though, as five years ago another Jabulani trademark was granted, to a wine maker from South Africa. Same marks can co-exist if they are applied for in different classes of products or services.

This is where it becomes interesting: the wine maker owns Jabulani.com but currently it displays a parking page at eNom. The ads that appear are about – you guessed it – soccer, soccer balls, South Africa, the World Cup.

The eNom girl we all love to hate appears at Jabulani.com along with several ads related to soccer.

However, that was not always the case; Archive.org shows that Jabulani.com has been used for years to promote the Jabulani brand of wines from South Africa. It’s unknown yet, when exactly the transition to the new, parking page occured.

It could also be an accidental switch, as eNom often succumbs to such DNS glitches. However, the SapWines.com web site used for the registrant’s email address is currently broken, displaying its list of files.

Jabulani.com displayed this image among others, until 2007.

Surely, something is not right.

But there is another twist to this story: Adidas has named the official soccer ball for the World Cup 2010 final game, “Jo’Bulani“, for which there is no trademark. So we have two names: “Jabulani” and “Jo’Bulani” only one of which, the first, is trademarked.

What a mess.

Would Adidas be able to score Jabulani.com from the wine makers, despite an existing trademark, just by showcasing what the Jabulani.com web site displays?

It would probably take a lot of mental massaging of the WIPO panel to come to a fair conclusion. Meanwhile, World Cup 2010 is in full swing.

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2 Responses to “Jabulani.com – Can Adidas score a trademark case at the WIPO?”
  1. tricolorro says:

    The wine maker better put down his wine glass.

    Jabulani.com expires real soon.

    Domain Name: JABULANI.COM

    Expiration Date: 29-jun-2010

  2. Lucius "Guns" Fabrice says:

    Well it’s not expired plus it’s linked to a trademark, so I would not touch it with a 10ft pole!

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