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Couple behind brand worn by Gwyneth Paltrow win battle against FIFA Ballon d’Or football award

15:07 19 September 2013

Inez and Gus Bodur with Golden Balls products in 2009 outside the West Hampstead store they were forced to close. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Inez and Gus Bodur with Golden Balls products in 2009 outside the West Hampstead store they were forced to close. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Archant

A couple who fought organisers of an international football award for six years to use the trademark Golden Balls have finally won their battle at Europe’s highest court.

Inez and Gus Bodur have spent years locked in battle with representatives of the FIFA Ballon d’Or – an award given every year to the world’s best footballer.

But after their win on Monday the couple spoke of their triumph in the battle to use the name.

They have endured mounting legal costs of about £100,000 as well as years of sleepless nights, which has interfered with running their sportswear brand Golden Balls.

The couple, who were forced to close their shop in West End Lane, West Hampstead, in 2010 due to court costs, are delighted with the ruling from the European Court of Justice, allowing them freedom to trade as Golden Balls.

Mrs Bodur, 49, said: “After the hearing, we were crying, laughing and jumping around.

“We have been waiting so long for this day and we felt so relieved that the judges were saying what we have been saying since day one – that there was no similarity.”

Mr Bodur, 50, added: “We are still in shock. We thought all along that we were right but these large corporations have so much money, you don’t know.”

The couple, who live in Cricklewood with their two children, have been selling their sportswear since 2001, when they obtained the trademark for Golden Balls.

Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted wearing one of their T-shirts soon after and business was booming.

But when they licensed the name to entertainment company Endemol to use for a game show hosted by Jasper Carrott in 2007, they were contacted by organisers of the Ballon d’Or –which translates as ball of gold.

The show was put on pause and the tentative steps towards making it a global success were halted when Intra-presse, the organisers of the football award, accused the couple of infringing copyright.

Despite the couple’s win in the European trademark disputes court in 2010, a subsequent appeal granted some rights back to the organisers, who merged with FIFA that same year.

But the couple vowed to take the case all the way to the Court of Justice, financing their court battle with money from their licensing deal with Endemol.

Mrs Bodur said after the court victory: “The next stage is to get our legal fees paid and to get compensation for the loss of business and for what our family has gone through in the last six years.”

The couple, who have been receiving a small amount of royalties from the online version of the TV show Golden Balls, hope a new series will be commissioned and want to open a sports café selling Golden Balls merchandise.

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