We recently noticed the following application: a bottle covered in a print in the style of the Mondrian paintings in combination with the Mondrian name. This bottle directly refers to the famous painter, his style and name. Is this allowed? After all, this bottle clearly free rides on the fame of this painter.
The EUIPO assesses trademarks based on the legal requirements such as distinctive character. In this case, the EUIPO found this a distinctive trademark. The name Mondrian is not descriptive of vodka, the product for which this trademark was filed. This would probably have been different if the name Mondrian had been filed for painting supplies or for books (as books can be about Mondrian, in which case Mondrian would be descriptive of the contents of the book). In the examination process, the EUIPO does not assess whether a mark infringes the rights of others. Only if the owner of a prior trademark files an opposition, the EUIPO will look into this matter.
In the end, it is up to Mondrian’s heirs to register the name as a trademark in order to prevent abuse. If the Mondrian name is not registered the heirs have little grounds to object. All the more reason for celebrities of all types to protect their name by registering it as a trademark.