German Federal Patent Court: HEADF*CK

Every now and then courts have to assess marks that are of questionable taste, such as in the following case.

Just before Christmas the German Federal Patent Court had to decide on the fate of the word and device mark HEADF*CK (see above left) covering goods and services in classes 16, 25, 35 and 38.  The specification did include the limitation “not relating to immoral or pornographic content”.   

It may not come as much for a surprise that the judges took the view that the mark did not comply with Article 8(2) No. 5 German Trade Mark Act finding that the mark was contrary to accepted principles of morality.  The court stressed that marks that are of poor taste could be registrable but drew a line in this case.  The sign HEADF*CK was part of vulgar language and could be seen as a reference to sexual practices which a considerable part of public, whose sense of morality had to be respected, could regard as against contrary to accepted principles of morality.

The court also took the opportunity to explain that in contrast to the registrable sign FICKEN (English: to fuck; see a post on the IPKat regarding this mark here), the word HEADF*CK was clearly not a last name.  The judges also stressed that the font used for the letters “CK” reinforced the immorality of the sign becaused it “showed a penetration”.  As such, the mark had to be removed from the register.

The – rather entertaining - decision (case reference: 27 W (pat) 22/12 of 18 December 2012) can be read here (in German). 

Posted by: Birgit Clark @ 19.13
Tags: immoral marks, German Federal Patent Court,

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