GREECE: Grexit mark rejected over… use of the € sign! 10 Jun 2017

The mark below, a provocative choice however you see things, was filed, and rejected, in connection with goods in Classes 16 and 25.

GR50201600N239228

The applicant, Laiki Enotita (People’s Unity) is the political party formed by members of the parliament who left the current government’s senior coalition member, SYRIZA, after the July 2015 agreement, which averted the Grexit. Laiki Enotita is a vocal supporter of Grexit, though polls suggest that its electoral influence would most likely be less than 2%

The Greek TM Office did not consider the mark as an application violating established morals or lacking distinctiveness.  This does not seem surprising. It is hard to actually say that exiting the Eurozone is a violation of the nation’s moral composure or Greek public order (perhaps it should be, but that is another question).

Moreover, it is debatable whether the device elements of the mark do not suffice to overcome the test of distinctiveness, at least as usually applied by Greek TM Office. This blogger thinks that the particular mark is devoid of distinctive character –the device elements are banal and the word GREXIT is commonplace across classes. However, there are those who would reasonably argue otherwise, considering past workings of the Greek TM Office.

And, then, there is no absolute ground of refusal for banal design, not to mention that what someone may regard as populism may very well be sound politics for someone else.

But, Greek TM law prohibits the registration of signs incorporating country names, national flags and “signs of great symbolic importance and particular public interest”.  For better or worse, this was the ground relied upon to reject the mark. The Examiner held that the mark should be rejected because it included an imitation of the symbol of the EURO, the Eurozone’s currency and “part of the stars of EU’s flag”. She went on to quote a brief excerpt from the EU’s website on the EURO, writing that “The euro is the official currency of 19 out of 28 EU member countries. Te euro represents the tangible proof of the european integration. Moreover, the economic and monetary union represents an important step forthe integration of the EU economies. It involves the coordination of economic and fiscal policies,, a common monetary policy and a common currency”.

The applicant did not submit any observations to the Examiner’s objections and the mark was rejected. A recourse action was available, but, based on TMView, not filed.

A step or thought further, one could argue, though this is not explicit or even clear in the Examiner’s refusal that the EURO symbol was regarded as a sign “of great symbolic importance and particular public interest”. If this were indeed so, then the ground of refusal for violation of the Greek public order could probably also apply (the Examiner did not go there), considering the actual and normative importance of Greece’s Eurozone membership, not to mention its irrevocable nature, according to the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU.

An interesting paradox that the EURO symbol embodied the obstacle to Grexit (TM registration).