BREAKING NEWS: someone wants to register 'Je suis Charlie' as a trade mark

Via @markmatter_ and @Loeffel_Abrar comes a piece of news that will be discussed more at length a bit later today. It concerns an application that has just been filed to register 'Je suis charlie' as a trade mark in Benelux in classes 3, 16, 25, 28, 32, 35 and 38 of the Nice classification.

Albeit an IP enthusiast, Merpel is not at all sympathetic to IP-conscious initiatives of this kind, even if she notes that they have become increasingly frequent.

Readers might in fact remember two recent attempts: first, the applications to register trade marks for the flight numbers of the two Malaysian Airlines jets, MH.17 and MH.370, and, secondly, the attempt to register 'I can't breathe' as a trade mark in the US.

As mentioned, a more detailed discussion will follow, including whether applications of this kind should be rejected on public policy/morality grounds. 

BREAKING NEWS: someone wants to register 'Je suis Charlie' as a trade mark BREAKING NEWS: someone wants to register 'Je suis Charlie' as a trade mark Reviewed by Eleonora Rosati on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. I'd like to see them try and sue the Prophet Mohammad for his recent use of the phrase.

  2. More interestingly, how does sharia view the types of IP with which this blog is concerned? Is exercise of a patent monopoly permissible under sharia, and what time of license terms / royalty schemes may feature? I, and I imagine others, would enjoy reading a guest Kat post on that subject.

  3. My Sharia knowledge is more than just a little bit rusty, but would not IP be treated the same as other types of property under Sharia? From what I remember, Sharia does not outlaw property ownership...

  4. Sharia doesn't apply in our world so is irrelevant. May as well have a discussion of how IP is treated in those virtual words computer nerds inhabit.

  5. p.s.
    Under Christian law, thou shall not steal, so if we take copying as theft, then a perpetual monopoly exists.

  6. Anonymous at 14:15 is, I suggest, incorrect on any construction of the comment.

    If "our world" means "the world", then there are plenty of countries that have Sharia as a national system of law that also have IP provisions, and the IPKat blog is read in them.

    If "our world" means European countries such as the UK, then it is still incorrect. Parties in the UK can use ADR under any agreed system of law, including Sharia, and disputes can be adjudicated in this manner - and are.

  7. Anonymous @ 14:16,

    Your conclusion is flawed, as copying is ONLY considered theft when it breaks the law.

    Even during the term of protection, certain types of copying is permitted, and thus would not be theft.

    Regardless, of those types, when the term of protection expires, there is not breaking of the law.

    Too clever by half, my friend.

  8. "so if we take copying as theft"

    There's that word "if" again. Wonder what it's for.

    Sharia law isn't law in this country (UK). If 2 parties want to "arbitrate" by a set of rules that's up to them, but it doesn't make it law.

    By "our world" I refer to the civilised world as opposed to medieval barbaric nations. Think this is insulting?

    Let's take Iran:
    "Article 167 of the constitution states that all judicial rulings must be based upon "authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwa".[79] Book 2 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran is entirely devoted to hudud punishments, including flogging and stoning for adultery, and execution for men who have sex with men"

    How about parts of Nigeria?
    "Until 1999, Islamic law applied primarily to civil matters, but twelve of Nigeria’s thirty-six states have since extended Sharia to criminal matters.[149] Sharia courts can order amputations, and a few have been carried out."

    Stoning of women is also quite common.

    "The Penal Code contains Sharia crimes such heresy, apostasy, atheism, refusal to pray, adultery and alcoholism. Punishments include lapidation, amputation and flagellation"

    You must forgive me if it offends you that I have zero respect for this system or the nations that apply it. Maybe the great sharia judges will order a fatwah on my head.

    Meanwhile, back in "our world", I'm going to play some music, watch some TV (with women showing their faces!!!!). I was going to pop out and slaughter a school full of children, but then realised I'm not a barbarian.

  9. Apparently, there have been some 50 (fifty!) simultaneous trademark applications. The French news spoof program "Le petit journal" relentlessly mocked these bottom-feeders in this segment:

  10. This has also been happening in France, over 50 applications so far for je suis charlie or the logo, all refused by l'INPI (apparently, see link) for lack of distinctive character, rather than on any public policy grounds.

  11. Anonymous at 17:59, FYI this is an IP weblog.

  12. There's been 50(?!) trademark applications in France too, and the domain names (.fr, .com, .org, and all went within hours too...

  13. There is now also the first US TM application:


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