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EU court allows Galileo name for satellite system

Brussels, Belgium, 10 May 2006 – A European court upheld the European Commission’s right to use the Galileo name for its satellite navigation project. The Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance turned down a demand by Galileo International Technology to ban the use of the name.

“The complainants have not established that the commission’s use of the term hurts their trademark rights,” the court said. Galileo International Technology, the airline reservation system, owns a number of trademarks incorporating the word Galileo. It filed suit to prevent the European Union from using the word in its project, which is designed to rival the U.S. GPS system.

Galileo asked the court either to prohibit the commission from using the name and pay $64 million in damages or alternatively to pay the sum of $306 million in compensation. But the court said that “no risk of confusion” exists with the Galileo airline reservation trademark because the commission was not selling any services from the satellite system.

In addition, the court said that “in choosing the Galileo name to designate their brands, products and services, the plaintiff could not ignore that they were inspired by the first name of the famous Italian mathematician, physician and astronomer, one of the largest personalities in European scientific culture.” The plaintiffs “exposed themselves to the risk” of a trademark dispute, the court concluded.