The IPKat receives some odd announcements and press releases, but this is definitely one of the most curious. Under the heading "Statement", this release comes from the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) itself. It comes with an explanatory rubric ("You may have seen that there has been an EFE story that OHIM has registered "OBAMA" as a Community trade mark. This is not correct - there has just been an application at present. In case you are interested here is our statement") and reads as follows:
"OHIM has received an application on behalf of a Spanish individual for the Community trade mark "OBAMA". The examination formalities have not been completed as we have not yet received the payment of the application fee, so "OBAMA" has not been registered by the Office. If the application passes on examination, it is published in order to allow oppositions to be made during a three month time limit, and it can only be registered if it successfully completes this process.So now you know. Merpel says, I seem to recall that an application to register the word mark BILL CLINTON was refused. Is it just the Democrats ...?
In general terms, if a trade mark is distinctive and not descriptive for the goods and services applied for, is not deceptive with regards to the origin of the goods and services or contrary to public policy, it will be accepted. To be rejected on public policy grounds, the trade mark would have, for example, to be racist, pornographic or related to terrorism.
While we do not comment on the merits of individual applications, the Office Guidelines on the examination of trade marks specify that "names of individual persons are usually distinctive" and "the same is true for names of prominent persons, including head of states." (page 37) and it adds that they "will no longer be considered as deceptive or contrary to public policy" (page 51)".