An applicant filed a trade mark application for Halloween in
respect of goods in classes 4, 9, 16, 21, 24-26 and 28 (see
The examiner in the patent office rejected the application,
then the applicant appealed the decision of the examiner at the
appellate board and again lost. The rejection was based on a
number of considerations.
Halloween is one of the oldest holidays in the world. It is
a mixture of Celtic and Christian traditions to worship their
saints. The origin of Halloween dates back thousands of years.
There is a Celtic festival named Samhain which marks the end of
the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the darker
half of the year. It may also be associated with Pomona, a
goddess of fruitful abundance in ancient Roman religion.
Ireland is considered to be the home country of Halloween
though it is the United States where the traditional Halloween
is celebrated on a large scale.
It came to Russia in the 1990s and remains exotic and
ambiguous. It imbibed some of the traditions and is a holiday
in a jocular and chilling style with specific paraphernalia,
such as fancy dresses, masks, toys and souvenirs associated
with specific subjects such as monsters, devilry, witchery and
death. Though the holiday is not yet very popular, shops in
many Russian cities and online stores offer a vast array of
goods related to Halloween.
The collegium of the patent office concluded that the word
Halloween is not distinctive and cannot represent its main
function – individualize the goods in classes 4, 9,
16, 21, 24-26 and 28 (these goods are attributes of holiday
fancy dresses, masks, knick knackery, glasses, post cards and
other souvenir products). The word needs an unrestricted use
and giving exclusive right to that word will deprive other
persons from using it.
Besides, even though the claimed designation features a word
element – "Halloween" which denotes a holiday
– it also includes a symbol of death, a skeleton.
According to the collegium of the patent office one cannot deny
the fact that the image of skeleton symbolises a mummy, parched
up body and eventually death. All this creates a negative
connotation of the designation.
In this way, the patent office saved Halloween from being
usurped by one person and allowed it for use by anybody who
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