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Thursday, 22 April 2004


The Daily Telegraph reports that the registration of the hammer and compass symbol of the former East Germany is to be challenged before the German Patent Office. Manfred Jansen obtained the registration of the symbol, together with various other iconic symbols after applying two years ago. Now however the estate of Heinz Behling, the designer of the East German symbol has expressed its intention to challenge the registration. Jansen is unrepentant and has said “Anyone could have secured these rights. They were lying around long enough”. The registration has also angered some citizens of the former East Germany. However, the German Patent Office has said that when a state ceases to exist, its symbols can be claimed by anybody.

The IPKat notes that under EU law, state symbols that are protected under Article 6ter of the Paris Convention cannot be registered as trade marks. However, Article 6ter only refers to the symbols of states that are members of the Paris Union. As East Germany no longer exists, it cannot be a member of the Union. However, he notes that any prior copyright Behling has in the symbol may lead to invalidation. He also wonders whether such a sign will be perceived as an indication of origin.

East German symbols here
East German art here
East German jokes here

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