Probably everyone grew up with Pinocchio, the famous story written by Carlo Collodi about a wooden puppet who is being conjured to life. Can anybody claim Pinocchio as a trademark? On one hand, PINOCCHIO is an excellent trademark. On the other hand you can say that this name is a public symbol, which should not be claimed by anyone. The prevailing view is that such names can be registered as trademarks. For example, in the Netherlands (Benelux) Rembrandt and Van Gogh are existing and registered trademarks. However, certain names, like a trademark Anne Frank, meet resistance. Trademark offices often do not refuse registrations being public symbols. For example, in case of the refusal of the Allah trademark (handled by Onel trademarks) the argument of the Benelux Office was that Allah did not have any distinctive character for clothing. The public symbol argument was also raised in an opposition case about the Pinocchio trademark. Disney filed this opposition against a trademark application PINOCCHIO (with a picture of Pinocchio added). The opponent argued that such a mark could not be a trademark. The EUIPO rejected that argument. The fact that a name reflects an historical or public symbol does not mean that this sign is not capable of distinguishing products or services. So the PINOCCHIO trademark of Disney is still alive, like Pinocchio.
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