Refusal Put Putin In

Trademark law operates on the first-come, first-served principle. Some individuals (and companies) attempt to register trademarks linked to tragic events in order to try and make a financial gain from extremely sad events (e.g.: JE SUIS CHARLIE).The war in Ukraine seems to evoke similar actions. Until now, such marks have often been refused because of a lack in distinctiveness. The signs are so widely known that no one recognizes an indication of origin in them.


The EUIPO, as well as some national offices, are now changing their course. Recently the mark PUT PUTIN IN has been refused for the reason that the sign violates morality.

This often involves signs that are racist, blasphemous, discriminatory, offensive or that promote the use of drugs. The EUIPO is now adding a new rule to this: It is also against morality for the applicant to use tragic events for commercial gain (even if the public sees the sign positively).

The war in Ukraine has led to a flood of refugees and countless of death. Put Putin In refers to Putin's role in this war. The mark has been denied. The Zelensky brand for vodka was refused in several countries for a similar reason.


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IP quiz Trademarks

Puma is one of the bigger sports and lifestyle brands in the world. The core-business is the design, development and sale of (sports) shoes, (sports) clothing and accessories. In 1960, Puma registered an international trademark for a device designed in 1958: the formstrip. Since then, Puma has registered approximately 90 formstrip trademarks with validity in the Benelux or the European Union. Puma claims that this is a serial mark. Monshoe is a wholesaler of women's shoes and related products. The company designs and develops Monshoe shoes which it largely markets itself. Monshoe sells its women's shoes under the brands Shoecolate and Pearlz. The shoe Shoecolate is offered in various colour combinations. Puma claims that Monshoe infringes its well-known formstrip trademark. Monshoe contradicts this and states that the average consumer will not perceive the device of Monshoe on the sneakers as a trademark. And if the public will recognize a trademark in the decoration, it will not make the connection to Puma. According to Monshoe, the formstrip logo is not a well-known trademark within the meaning of the BVIE and the UMVo. There is no likelihood of confusion because the sign does not or hardly evoke any association with Puma among the public. In light of the above, who is right? Does this constitute decorative use or linking to a well-known trademark?