Trademark protection for national emblems

A decision of the General Court has confirmed the significant protection that will be afforded to national and international emblems.

Article 7 of the Community Trade Mark Regulation lists the absolute grounds for refusal of a Community trademark application. These include at Article 7(1)(h): ‘trademarks that have not been authorised by the competent authorities and are to be refused pursuant to Article 6ter of the Paris Convention’; and at Article 7(1)(i): ‘trademarks that include badges, emblems or escutcheons other than those covered by Article 6ter of the Paris Convention and that are of particular public interest, unless the consent of the competent authority to their registration has been given’.

The purpose of Article 6ter of the Paris Convention is to protect the armorial bearings, flags and other state emblems of the signatory nations. The convention gives broad protection to national emblems, which contrasts with the protection afforded to trademarks; for example, there is no requirement to show a likelihood of confusion under the convention…

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