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Thursday, 23 April 2009

"We haven't registered Obama", says OHIM

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.

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)".
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 ...?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

OHIM has further announced that it has received an application to register IPKAT for legal services (but strangely not T-shirts). In the exercise of its legal powers it is currently counting up the number of times it has been offended and abused by said blog. Sorry, that should read "It is examining the application against the usual criteria for distinctivenes, and non-descriptiveness".

Kne said...

The Benelux Intellectual Property Office didn't apparently didn't mind. They published a trademark registration for OBAMA in classes 31, 35 and 44 on 5 September 2008. (nr. 0845026 on registered.boip.int for those who are truly interested).

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to add, Jeremy, that in no way should other offices be offended that you have chosen to apply to OHIM for registration of IPKAT.

This is because one can fully expect the whole matter to kick off into a huge (and very juicy) proprietorship dispute. Just who owns IPKAT I wonder ? Are you a partnership at will ? (cf Saxon and other aging rock groups). Have you decided (in writing)where the rights reside ? Do Merpel and Tufty have legal personality ? These questions, and no doubt many others, will all fall gracefully into OHIM's lap.

Macy Merriman said...

“Is it just the democrats?”

No, locally-brewed “Bush” remains a popular beer brand here in Belgium, though it was subject to some additional notoriety as in “Too much Bush contributes to diminished intelligence”.

Frédéric said...

The refusal of BILL CLINTON as a CTM was based on art 7.1.f CTMR (maybe because the application was in class 34 ...) just like an application for FIDEL CASTRO (shameless self promotion for an old post of mine: http://www.pmdm.fr/wp/2006/08/02/fidel-castro-sous-embargo-europeen/).

Anonymous said...

"... the trade mark would have, for example, to be ... related to terrorism."

I suppose every U.S. President is related to terrorism, isn't he? (Thinking of Homeland Security and so on.)

Anonymous said...

well, what's for sure is that a CTM applicant does not seem to be in favour of him (CTMs 7099492, 7062111 and 7104961)..

Frédéric said...

Some weird Oba-marks...

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