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THURSDAY, 6 MAY 2010
USSR coat of arms "contrary to public policy", rules OHIM
Class 46 thanks Fabrice Roberts for drawing our attention to a decision of the Second Board of Appeal of OHIM in Case R 1509/2008-2. In this decision the Board dismissed an appeal by the Community trade mark applicant, Couture Tech Ltd (from the British Virgin Islands), against OHIM's refusal to allow registration of a figurative mark consisting of the coat of arms of the Soviet Union, with red star, harmmer and sickle for goods and services in Classes 3, 14, 18, 23, 26 and 43.
The ground of refusal was that the mark was contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality based on how the mark would be perceived in, at least, Hungary, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
The reasoning of the Examiner is worth noting in this regard:
"The sign applied for consists of the exact representation of the coat of arms
of the Soviet Union, including the red star, sickle and hammer, and
15 ribbons containing the motto ‘proletariats of the world, unite!’ in all the
15 languages of the Soviet Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union. This
emblem was the official symbol of the Soviet Communist party that ruled the
country according to the Soviet constitution. It is common knowledge that
the Soviet Union was a totalitarian state that massively violated human
rights, under the leadership of the Soviet Communist party, committed
crimes against humanity, including summary executions, torture, sending
innocent people to labour camps, involuntary settlement and stripping of
citizen’s rights. It is commonly accepted that the ethnicity-targeted
population transfers in the Soviet Union led to million deaths due to inflicted
hardships. For example, 10 percent of the entire adult Baltic population was
deported or sent to labour camps, as can bee seen from Wikipedia printouts.
Against this background, it is obvious that a sign which alludes to the Soviet
totalitarian regime and its ideology which has tragically affected many
countries, nations and individuals, is contrary to public policy and accepted
principles of morality. In view of the genocide and other crimes committed
by the Soviet regime under the leadership of the Soviet Communist party, it
is clear that its official symbol may cause outrage in the minds of people in
those Member States which have been directly affected. Particularly from
Baltic States, where the majority of ordinary citizens whose values and
standards would be offended when seeing the sign applied for in relation to
the claimed goods and services, since it would be perceived by them as a
glorification of the Soviet totalitarian regime.
Under the laws of some Member States Soviet symbols have been equalled
to Nazi symbols. For instance, Latvia, Estonia and Hungary ban the display
of both Nazi and Soviet symbols at public meetings. According to
Article 11(5) of the Latvian Law on Meetings, Street processions and Pickets
of 16 January 1997, participants in meetings, streets processions and pickets
during such events are prohibited from utilizing former USSR and Nazi
German flags, coats of arms, hymns and symbols. In Hungary, the Criminal
Code, Act IV/1978, Chapter XVI (Crimes against public order), title 2
(Crimes against public peace), Section 269/B expressly prohibits ‘use of symbols of despotism’. Since these provisions reflect the public beliefs as
regards those symbols, it is reasonable to consider that the registration of the
sign applied for bears a serious risk of causing public disorder".
The fact that the same mark was accepted for registration in respect of goods in other Classes was described as an error in law.
Posted by: Blog Administrator @ 15.58
Public policy, principles of morality,
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