Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Venus, a valid trademark when together

Often the question is asked whether words or images with a great societal significance, religiously or otherwise, can be registered as trademarks. Since there are no specific provisions for these signs the authorities often refuse them on different grounds, not always rightfully so. The image below, in which the head of Michelangelo’s David appears to be looking at Botticelli’s Venus, had been applied for cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

The trademark authorities claimed that both world famous images were often used in advertising as symbols for male and female beauty respectively. For this reason the images would be unsuitable for registration as a trademark for cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. The applicant appealed against the refusal and was awarded. In this case it does not concern two separate images but a unique combination of two statues. Through its composition a manipulated and unusual image is created, which gives the logo a distinctive character. A just decision, although it is rather unfortunate that the Court did not issue a statement on the use of images from the public domain.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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