Marseilles fans hold up banners saying "UEFA Mafia" during the...

Marseilles fans hold up banners saying "UEFA Mafia" during the Europa League, round of 16 first-leg soccer match between Marseille and Villarreal, at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France, Thursday, March 7, 2024. Credit: AP/Daniel Cole

PRAGUE — A breakaway competition of European soccer clubs cannot be registered under the Super League trademark, a European Union office has ruled in a victory for Denmark's top-flight competition.

The EU's Intellectual Property Office based in Alicante, Spain rejected an attempt by the European Super League Company to register the trademark because it is “conceptually identical” to the Super Liga in Denmark.

“The Opposition Division concludes that it is clear from the evidence submitted that the earlier trade mark (Super Liga) has been subject to long-standing and intensive use and is generally known and has acquired a significant reputation in the relevant market in relation to the organization of sports activities, including sporting events, all in relation to football, where it enjoys a consolidated position,” the ruling said.

The opposition division handles challenges to trademark applications.

“(It) considers that a significant part of the public in the relevant territory has sufficient English-knowledge to perceive ‘The Super League’ as the English translation of the Danish word ‘Super Liga’ and therefore as conceptually identical,” the ruling stated.

The ruling can be appealed.

“We are very happy that the EU’s trademark authority has agreed that the trademark ‘The Super League’ in the EU will violate the value that the Danish clubs have invested in 3F Superliga,” the Danish league said in a statement on Wednesday.

In 2021, a group 12 of Europe’s most storied clubs announced plans to create a new Super League. Proposals for the 20-team elite tournament would have seen 15 top clubs protected from relegation.

It would have effectively replaced the Champions League — Europe’s elite club tournament — and had the potential to impact domestic leagues given the guaranteed entry of teams regardless of their success in national competitions.

The original plans quickly fell apart after fierce opposition from fans.

“We have always been against the big clubs’ desire for a new European league,” said Claus Thomsen, chief executive of the Danish league. "Football should not be a closed party for clubs that do not dare to participate in an open competition, so of course we are extra happy about this victory outside the pitch.”

A22 Sports Management, a Madrid-based company that is promoting the Super League, had no immediate comment.

Super League backers won a major legal victory in December when the EU's Court of Justice ruled that soccer’s governing bodies UEFA and FIFA acted contrary to EU competition law by blocking plans for a breakaway Super League.

Emboldened by that ruling, organizers quickly revealed plans for the new competition. Real Madrid and Barcelona have been leading the fight to get the new competition off the ground.

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