New EU decision: The possibility of protecting slogans as trademarks has been reaffirmed
Not only individual words can be protected as trademarks. Slogans, too, can be registered as trademarks if they are distinctive. In practice, however, this is not always easy. A new decision by the European Court shows what matters.
The applicant wanted to register the trademark "IT'S LIKE MILK BUT MADE FOR HUMANS" for dairy products. The European Patent Office refused the registration: Consumers would understand this slogan only as an indication of the good quality of dairy products. Therefore, the slogan would not be registrable as a trademark.
Signs that are not recognizable by consumers as an indication of the origin of a company and, therefore, not as a trademark are excluded from registration. In other words, the trademark may not be suitable for distinguishing the goods and services of one company from the goods and services of another company.
The European Court now granted the registration: The slogan is unusual and triggers a thought process in the consumer, especially since it is commonly assumed that standard milk is (also) made for humans. Using the word "but" makes the slogan memorable and, thus, suitable as a distinctive sign.
The decision shows and confirms that creative word phrases or word plays can be suitable as a trademark, even if they seem very simple at first glance.