The unkindest cut - salami off the Bundespatentgericht menu

From the IPKat's friend Kathrin Vowinckel comes news of a remarkable decision (in German only) of the German Bundespatentgericht (Federal Patent Court) of 11 July 2007. This case -- 28 W(pat) 6/07 -- involved the registrability as a German trade mark of the words "Vollmond-Salami" ("full-moon salami") for goods in class 29.

The Court was apparently of the opinion that the words in question were purely descriptive in respect of meat products which are produced at the time of the full moon. Affirming the German Trade Marks Office's opinion, the Court agreed that, over the past couple of years, the influence of the moon and the lunar cycle on human beings and their biorhythms has become increasingly a focal point for the attention of the German population. Even though there is no scientific proof of the moon's influence, agriculture and food production has for a long time have taken account of a connection between different phases of the lunar cycle and the relevant time for specific activities such as the sowing of plants, the harvesting of herbs and the production of particulars food. A large part of the German population is aware of such lunar influences. According to different surveys, up to 90 percent of the German population is convinced that the moon has some influence.

From a legal perspective the Court considered that it was irrelevant whether the survey figures were correct. The hearing had revealed that products produced during the full moon were no longer merely of interest to esoterically-minded consumers and that so-called "full-moon products" (Vollmondprodukte) had become quite common, e.g. for mineral water that was bottled at full moon, bread baked according to the lunar calendar and meat derived from animals which were slaughtered at full moon. One example of a company that offers such products on a country-wide basis is Demeter (the Court's decision, unusually, includes a hyperlink to Demeter). The mark Vollmond-Salami thus indicated a characteristic of the product by referring to a point in time that was important to the relevant consumer. As it is sufficient if a mark is descriptive and has to be kept free even for a small minority of the German population, the mark VOLLMOND-SALAMI was considered unregistrable.

The Court confirmed that it is irrelevant whether such product characteristics can be scientifically proven and checked by consumers -- the only relevant issue is that of whether the characteristic is important for relevant consumers, and the Court did not have any doubts that the "full-moon timing" was indeed of such importance. In case it was mistaken on this issue, the Court added that Vollmond-Salami, as a verbal description of a product's characteristics, was also to be considered non-distinctive.

The IPKat recalls that the word "lunatic" is derived from the Latin luna (moon), indicating that the thought-processes of a person so described are influenced by that planet rather than by rational or intellectual considerations. Merpel says, can the same not be said of the Court's decision in this case? And the last word goes to Tufty, who commends to all this weblog's readers the applicant's claim that "Die mystische Vollmond-Salami® macht hellwach, hebt das Selbstwertgefühl und verbreitet vor allem gute Laune" (or, as Babel Fish translates, "The mystische full moon Salami® makes wide awake, lifts the self value feeling and spreads above all good mood").

Vollmond-Salami home page here
Influence of the moon here
Dangerous moonlight here
Mooning here
Dark of the moon here
Moondog here
Sanity checks here
Make your own salami here
The unkindest cut - salami off the Bundespatentgericht menu The unkindest cut  -  salami off the Bundespatentgericht menu Reviewed by Jeremy on Saturday, November 03, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. Jeremy, Jeremy, celebrate cultural difference rather than snigger at it.

    Before the Postkantoor case it would have been entirely plausible that we in the UK would have registered "Mooning" for TV Broadcasts, but none including those on BBC3 involving young male rugby players dropping their trousers and displaying their bottoms.

    To the rest of Europe this must have reinforced their view that the Brits are indeed, barking mad.

  2. Hmmm, a slight problem - the moon is not a planet.


  3. "...up to 90 percent of the German population is convinced that the moon has some influence"...

    oh well, in that case...


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