|Author (Person)||Banks, Martin|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.27, 5.7.01, p3|
THE European Commission is locked in a legal wrangle which could cost taxpayers millions of euro - and jeopardise the launch of notes and coins in the new single currency.
The case centres on the similarity between the euro logo and the symbol used by UK travel company Thomas Cook's foreign exchange business, Travelex.
The company claims its symbol has been registered since 1989 - seven years before the EU adopted its euro logo, which will be used on billions of notes and coins when the new currency hits the streets in less than six months.
London-based Travelex has filed a case with the European Court of Justice claiming trademark infringement.
A decision is not expected until the end of the year but if the Court rules against the EU executive it could result in long, drawn-out proceedings which could have far-reaching effects.
There are fears that the action could end up costing European taxpayers €40 million in damages - the amount of compensation reportedly being sought by Travelex - and could throw plans for the 1 January release of euro notes into chaos. Gerassimos Thomas, the Commission's spokesman for economic and monetary affairs, said: "We are aware of the action launched by Thomas Cook on the logo and that they are claiming compensation. I must stress, however, that the Commission does not believe this can affect the date of the introduction of the euro." He added: "We dispute that there is a similarity between the two logos. The Travelex logo is more like a moon shape than the euro symbol. We are not, however, underestimating the significance of this case as this will be symbol of our new currency. We shall abide by the Court's ruling but we are confident we will win the case."
Thomas could not say if any research had been carried out into other registered logos similar to the euro.
Michelle Narvin, spokesman for Travelex, said the firm had brought the action because of possible "confusion" over the "considerable similarity" between the two symbols.
She added: "The logo is extremely similar to ours but we have been using it several years longer than the Commission. A brand is, of course, a valuable asset and that is why we say the euro logo is an infringement of our trademark. Thomas Cook has been trying since 1998 to reach a solution to this problem with the Commission but it has never been given a serious response."
Travelex, a foreign exchange specialist, bought Thomas Cook's financial services department in March.
The European Commission is locked in a legal wrangle which could cost taxpayers millions of euro - and jeopardise the launch of notes and coins in the new single currency.
|Subject Categories||Economic and Financial Affairs, Internal Markets|