20 November 2023

Pitting family against former lawyer, a recent EU decision shows how important it is to have proper evidence of assignment of a trade mark.

World-famous Argentinian footballer Diego Armando Maradona, whose “Hand of God” deprived England of a possible World Cup win in the 1986 quarter-finals, had an instantly recognisable name and brand.

In 2001, Maradona applied to register the EU trade mark “DIEGO MARADONA” for personal hygiene and pharmacy products, clothing, footwear, headgear, restaurants, hospitality, IT and copyright management. The trade mark was registered in January 2003.

Maradona died in November 2020, fifteen years after confessing to the Hand of God incident.

In January 2021, weeks after Maradona’s death and perhaps rather opportunistically, Argentinian company Sattvica, owned by Diego’s former lawyer, applied to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to grab Maradona’s trade mark by claiming Maradona had assigned the trade mark to it, presumably whilst still alive.

Sattvica relied on a signed authorisation for commercial use of trade marks dated 26 December 2015 and an undated agreement authorising general use of the trade mark.

Initially, the EUIPO accepted these documents and entered the transfer in the Register.

Subsequently, Maradona’s heirs objected. The heirs succeeded, in 2022, in proving to the EUIPO that these documents did not constitute an assignment of the trade mark to Sattvica. Sattvica then requested that the General Court of the EU annul that EUIPO decision.

In a ruling on 7th November 2023, the General Court of the EU confirmed that no assignment had taken place, leaving Maradona’s heirs victorious. Other factors included the fact that Maradona predeceased the transfer application, Sattvica could not produce any other documents and the 6 year delay by Sattvica in applying for the transfer. However, the General Court of the EU is only the second-highest EU court: Sattvica could, if they wanted to continue the fight, appeal to the EU Court of Justice.

A quick search of the EUIPO site reveals that the trademark continues to be held in the name of Diego Armando Maradona and is valid until 2031, when it can be renewed for a further 10 year period. The case reference is T-299/22 | Sattvica v EUIPO – Maradona and Others (DIEGO MARADONA).

No Hand of God this time, but still a win for Maradona’s family.

If you want to sell/assign your trade mark, or have any intellectual property questions at all, please do contact our Legal 500-recommended expert Brian Levine on 01935 846258 or email