Royal Dutch and the Royal predicate

There are strict rules regarding the use of the terms ‘Royal’ or ‘purveyor to the Royal household’. These are titles, granted by the King to companies with a prominent position in the Netherlands. Further conditions are that a company must be at least a hundred years old, have no less than a hundred employees and have a formidable reputation. The grant by the King is a favour, not an enforceable right. Companies that use these titles, without the King’s permission, give the impression that all conditions are successfully met. In order to prevent any abuse (and to protect the intellectual property rights of the Royal House), our former Queen Beatrix established a foundation.

The company, Royal Dutch Holding, is an investment company mainly active in North Africa and the Middle East. The Royal predicate has not been granted to this company. According to Dutch tradename law it is forbidden to use a misleading tradename. It is obvious, that the Dutch word ‘Koninlijke’ for Royal would be misleading if the title is not granted. The same goes for its English translation, Royal, because the use of English is quite common in the Netherlands. The company is therefore condemned to refrain from using the names Royal or Royal Dutch, accompanied with a penalty of 1000,- per day in case of violation.


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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?