Puma lodged an application to trademark Puma Tokyo 2021 ©Getty Images

German sportswear giant Puma has seen an application to register "Puma Tokyo 2021" as a trademark turned down by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who said it may falsely suggest a connection to the Olympics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

The application to register the trademark was made on March 24, the same date the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Puma SE attempted to register both "Puma Tokyo 2021" and "Puma Tokyo 2022" as a trademark for apparel, footwear, accessories and sporting goods.

Both applications have been preliminary refused, although Puma can opt to file further arguments in an attempt to secure the trademarks.

The preliminary decision cited the 1999 ruling by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that refused to let an unauthorised third-party register "Sydney 2020".

The case had deemed that "the proposed mark Sydney 2020, used for advertising and business services and communication services, falsely suggests connection with Olympic Games, since the general public would recognise the phrase as referring unambiguously to Olympic Games to be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 and the entire organisation that comprises Olympic Games qualifies as an institution".

"In this case, the use of the wording Tokyo 2021 contained in the proposed mark would be clearly seen by the general public as referring to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that have been rescheduled to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus to the widely–known organisation that comprises the Olympic Games (i.e. the United States Olympic Committee)," the United States Patent and Trademark Office examiner ruled.

"It should also be noted that the current application was filed on the same day as the announced rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympics (i.e., March 24, 2020).

"The fact that the applicant's goods include a variety of athletic and sports bags, clothing and sports and athletic equipment, etc, serves to enhance and increase the likelihood that there would be a false connection with the Olympics, and thus the United States Olympic Committee.

"In addition, no connection with the United States Olympic Committee has been established in the present record."

Puma are able to respond to each of the preliminary decisions within six months ©Getty Images
Puma are able to respond to each of the preliminary decisions within six months ©Getty Images

According to Law360, the USOPC have three registered trademarks for Tokyo 2020, but have not applied for any trademarks for 2021.

It follows the decision from the IOC and the Japanese Government to maintain that the rescheduled Games are known as Tokyo 2020.

The two trademark requests were among others by Puma refused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office over the potential for "false connection" to events.

"Puma Euro 2021" and "Puma Euro 2022" requests were denied earlier in April over the potential links to both the rescheduled 2020 UEFA European Football Championships and the 2021 Women's UEFA European Football Championships.

These events will now take place in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Similarly, attempts to trademark "Puma Eugene 2021" and "Puma Eugene 2022" were also rejected, due to the possible association with the World Athletics Championships.

Puma have to respond within six months of each decision should they wish to proceed with the applications.