Klötenköm, what does that mean?

16 June 2022

There are certain rules that a trademark must comply with, one of which is that it must have a distinctive character. A trademark lackingdistinctive character or that merely describes the qualities of a product will be rejected. When an application is submitted for a European trademark, the European Trademarks Office examines whether it has a descriptive meaning in one of the languages of the EU. If so, this is grounds for refusal.

But what if a trademark does not have any meaning in an official EU language, such as English, Spanish or Italian? A German company wanted to register the trademark Klötenköm as a European trademark for alcoholic beverages, but an investigation by the authority revealed that this word refers to a type of egg liquor in 'Plattdeutsch' and is, therefore, a descriptive word for alcoholic beverages.

The trademark owner disagreed and filed an objection. Their main argument was that Plattdeutsch is a dialect that is only spoken by a handful of people. The European Trademark Office disagreed, however: even though this language has been largely replaced by standard German, there are still plenty of people who speak Plattdeutsch, especially older people and people living in rural areas. Thus, a descriptive meaning that applies within just part of a country is still sufficient grounds for a refusal.

Beeld bij tekst-Jun-16-2022-11-35-07-73-AM


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