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Now in its twelfth year, Class 46 is dedicated to European trade mark law and practice. This weblog is written by a team of enthusiasts who want to spread the word and share their thoughts with others.

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German Federal Patent Court: GDR state symbol not registrable as a device mark

The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reports of a new decision by the German Federal Patent Court (Bundespatentgericht), which the court handed down on Monday. In its decision the court confirmed an earlier decision by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office and ruled, so the report, that the former GDR's state symbol (a crest of arms consisting of a hammer, a pair of compasses and grain) could not be registered as a device mark. The mark in question appears to have covered different goods and services, including various types of clothing and beverages.

It is further reported that the court viewed a registration of the GDR's statesymbol as a trade mark as being against goods moral ("Verstoss gegen die guten Sitten"): in the past the sysmbol had been used on medals to decorate soldiers and members of the GDR's state security. In the light of political persecution during the times of the GDR and given the shootings at the Berlin Wall of civilians that tried to flee the GDR, such use of the GDR state symbol had to be disapproved of. Vicitims of the GDR regime would view such a trade mark as "pure, intolerable political sarcasm". The court's spokesperson did not provide any further background concerning this case, according to the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

The GDR state symbol

Class 46 has not (yet) been able locate the decision on the court's website.

Update: The Bundespatentgericht's press release can be found here. According to this press release, the court based its refusal on § 8 (2) No. 1 and German Trade Mark Act. The mark consisted of the state symbol of the former GDR, which was still being used at the time of the German reunification. The symbol could today still be seen a reference to the geographical origin of goods from the former GDR or as a reference to the fact that the goods on offer had been produced in a GDR like manner. The correct case reference is: 26 W (pat) 4/05

Posted by: Birgit Clark @ 00.11
Tags: Bundespatentgericht, gdr statesymbol, German Trade Mark and Patent Office,
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MARQUES does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this blog. The views are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of MARQUES. Seek professional advice before action on any information included here.

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