Charlie Chaplin shape mark has been rejected

01 February 2023

Charlie Chaplin's estate, based in Paris, is managed by three companies, known collectively as The Chaplin Office.

They include Roy Export Sas (responsible for the copyrights to the films), Bubbles Inc SA (responsible for the rights to Charlie Chaplin and his tramp character Charlot) and Association Chaplin (founded by some of the heirs).

Roy Export Sas recently filed a remarkable application in the European Union – the shape mark of the Charlot character –for a number of products and services, including entertainment services. What motivated them to do this? Did they want to prepare for the time when the copyright on the films has expired, or was it an attempt to seek extra protection against parties seeking to latch on to the brand? The exact reasons cannot be deduced from the application.

We do know, however, that the application was rejected by the European Trademarks Office. Their reasoning was that the sign would be instantly recognised by the relevant public as the character Charlot, thus conveying the characteristics of the product or service. This means that the public will immediately understand that the products and services are related to Charlot, making the mark descriptive.

The applicant did not file a defence against the decision.

Beeld bij tekst charlie chaplin


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