Berlin wins rights to Knut the Polar Bear

The Berlin Zoo has won its battle to keep the rights to the name Knut, the popular polar bear it bred in captivity until it unexpectedly died in 2011.

The name generates a large income for the Berlin zoo but was under threat from a British registered company Knut IP Management Ltd that wanted to use the name for a range of clothing and sports articles.

The general court of the European Union in Luxembourg has now upheld a lower court decision in favour of the Berlin Zoo on the grounds that the name Knut is too close to the zoo’s registered brand name of Knud, and that the merchandise the company wanted to brand under that name was also too similar to that sold by the Berlin Zoo. This, reasoned the court, would lead to confusion in the public mind.

Knut was born in 2006 but was abandoned by his mother to the anxiety of a world audience. He was reared by zoo keepers until he unexpectedly died at the age of four from encephalitis.

The Berlin zoo is one of the most popular in Europe with about three million visitors a year. It is estimated that in 2007 the still-cuddly Knut, who was then at the height of his fame, was responsible for an increase in about €5 million in revenue for the zoo.