‘Je suis Charlie’ TM applications, the public policy and the lack of distinctive character

by Axel P Ringelhann

Last Friday, 16 January 2015, OHIM published a press release on its website according to which CTM applications consisted of or which contain the phrase ‘Je suis Charlie’ could be considered ‘contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality’ (Article 7 (1) (f) CTMR) as well as non-distinctive (Article 7(1)(b) CTMR).

Earlier last week IPKat informed that somebody applied for a trade mark consisting of ‘Je suis Charlie’ for the goods and services in classes 3, 16, 25, 28, 32, 35 and 38 of the Nice Classification at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.

A check on TMView reveals that also at the USIPO, someone applied for a word mark consisting of the three words in question for services in class 35 of the Nice Classification.

As for the French IPO (INPI), on 13 January 2015, it informed in a press release that as of 7 January 2015, numerous ‘Je suis Charlie’ applications have been filed. The INPI decided not the register these applications, since the signs would lack of distinctive character. This is due to the fact that the slogan is used by the public at large, and therefore cannot be pocketed by a one single competitor.

Axel Ringelhann
QMJIP Assistant Editor