As a general rule of thumb, not every sign can be registered as a trademark. Trademark legislations around the world prohibit registration of descriptive and not distinctive signs. The reason for this is the fact that such signs cannot be perceived by consumers as a source of trade origin, that is to say that the product or services comes from a particular company.
One interesting case in that regard is from Hungary where a trademark application was filed for “BEER, BURGER, BARBECUE FESTIVAL” in Classes 32, 41 and 43.
The Hungarian Patent Office refused this application based on absolute grounds, descriptiveness and lack of distinctiveness. In the appeal the Court upheld this decision.
The Court stressed the well-known EU Court position that a combination of descriptive elements cannot make one sign distinctive as a whole.
The submitted evidence for acquires secondary distinctiveness was dismissed as irrelevant and not sufficient.
The case comes as a good example about the protection of such signs. By default this is not possible except in cases where distinctiveness is acquired through consistent and long term market use. This means that when you apply for such signs you need to be well prepared with evidence in advance in order to have chances for a successful registration.