Can PANDEMIA be a trademark in Portugal?

To what extent Pandemia can be contrary to morals, public policy and accepted principles of morality?

This is the question the Portuguese Patent Office has given answer to in a recent decision. The case concerns a trademark application for PANDEMIA for the following classes:

  • Class 32 – “barley wine [beer], fruit juice beverages, mineral water, seltzer water”; and
  • Class 33 – “white wine, grape wine, sparkling grape wine, red wine, alcoholic wines, table wines, sparkling wines, fortified wines, rose wines, cereal-based distilled alcoholic beverages, grain-based distilled alcoholic beverages, distilled beverages and spirits”.

The Patent Office refused to register this mark based on absolute grounds – contrary to morals, public policy and accepted principles of morality. The decision was appealed and upheld.

According to the Office the assessment whether the sign is contrary to this absolute ground depends on three elements: the meaning of the mark, the goods and services and their target consumers and the impact on the society as a result of the trademark use.

The Office considered that the meaning of PANDEMIA would be inevitably related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The goods mentioned in the applications are consumed by a large number of people.

When it comes to consumption of alcoholic beverages, in general, they are associated with entertainment, fun and relaxation. However, because of the association of the mark with the current pandemic, the meaning of the mark can be shocking for many people, especially those of them suffered the pandemic aftermath. From that point of vew the mark can be against the accepted principles of morality.

Source: BMA – Paulo Monteverde, Inês Rodrigues for Lexology.