Greek Trademark Office rejects application containing the word ‘Jesus’
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Greek Trademark Office rejects application containing the word ‘Jesus’

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Evangelia Sioumala of Patrinos & Kilimiris reports on the rejection of a trademark application on absolute grounds because it was considered to contain a word of high symbolic importance

The Greek Law on Trademarks provides that a trademark shall not be registered or, if registered, shall be liable to be declared invalid where the trademark includes a sign of high symbolic value; in particular, a religious symbol.

The Greek Trademark Office, in a decision issued in 2023, held that the trademark below (international classes 30 and 43) should be refused registration, as it contains the word “Jesus”.

The Greek examiner also ruled that the figurative element of the trademark at issue, consisting of two praying hands, is of high symbolic value.

The decision is consistent with previous rulings of the Greek Trademark Office, in which other trademarks – such as the second image in the gallery below, containing the symbol of the cross – were rejected on the same basis.

In a similar case, the EUIPO Board of Appeal considered that the sign of a Latin cross, as depicted in the third image below, is contrary to public policy under Article 7(1)(f) of the EU Trademark Regulation (EUTMR).

In this context, it was held that Christian religions have had, and continue to have, an influence in Europe and that religious beliefs should be respected. It was also stated that “the fact that religious symbols of very high symbolic value are becoming commonplace as a result of their commercialisation could offend the sensitivities of both believers and non-believers in the European Union who also have the right not to be exposed to the proliferation of such symbols, used as trademarks in everyday life”.

Although the absolute ground of refusal applicable is not the same, the outcome is, which is not strange, since it is acceptable that absolute grounds of refusal may well overlap. This is the case as far as the Greek law is concerned, where both grounds of refusal are provided for. However, when the EUTMR comes into play, all relevant cases can be dealt with on a single-ground basis, that of Article 7(1)(f).

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