Audi wins battle over 'Vorsprung durch Technik'

It’s taken many years for Audi to win the battle to claim Vorsprung durch Technik as its own trademark, but finally, it has. Until recently, it has been locked in a trademark battle over who owns its rights, having been rebuffed since 2003 for lacking “distinctive character”.

Sir John Hegarty, the Co-Founder of creative agency BBH, spotted the slogan Vorsprung durch Technik in 1982, the same year he established the company on a trip to Germany. Translating as ‘advancement through technology’, Vorsprung durch Technik has gone on to become one of the most recognised slogans in advertising history and encompasses the Audi ethos.

The decision to grant trademark was made by the European Court of Justice, which also granted KitKat it’s ‘Have a Break’ slogan. This means Audi now have the rights to use Vorsprung durch Technik not only in their advertising, but also throughout all of their branding, including on clothes and in games.

Fiona McBride, trademark attorney at law firm Withers & Rogers said, "While in the past it was difficult to register such marks as they were typically seen as mere advertising puff, the courts are now recognising that such marks fulfil both an advertising and trademark function, distinctive and synonymous with a particular brand." McBride continued, "This ruling indicates that the ECJ is willing to look favourably on slogan registrations in the future, and there should be no greater burden of proof on the brand owner to show their mark is distinctive than would apply when registering a typical word mark.”

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