Neleman is a well-known Dutch winery offering organic wines and using an unconventional marketing approach. The company has filed a European trademark application for the following combined mark in class 33 – Wine; Sparkling wines:
This application was refused by the EUIPO based on absolute grounds – Article 7(1)(f) EUTMR, trademarks that are contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality.
The Board of Appeal upheld this decision too.
It is the view of the Board that, although it is true that the term ‘fucking’ is used as a modern-day superlative when combined with another word (in particular, between close friends or in extremely informal settings, where the use of such taboo slang may be exceptionally acceptable), this meaning has not yet become so well established in all social strata that it has made the original meaning of the word ‘to fuck’ or ‘fucking’ more remote and forgettable.
Although ‘FUCKING GOOD WINE’ may be seen as an observation that the wine is very good, by choosing the word ‘FUCKING’ the sign is not only vulgar but taboo and offensive in which respect reference is made to paragraph 15 above.
The goods in question are everyday goods that can be seen by anyone in shops and displays. People of any age who consider the term ‘fucking’ to be offensive may perceive these goods, and therefore also the trademark that may appear on them, at any time. The fact that the goods at hand are not consumed by or sold to children does not alter the fact that such goods are normally prominently displayed in shops and supermarkets and thus can be seen by children, as well as, for example, people of any age who will find such use of an extremely vulgar and offensive swear word as morally unacceptable.
In this respect, the Board further notes that the applicant’s arguments that it had received many awards and no complaints are in any event irrelevant because what matters is the intrinsic meaning a word has (as appears from the dictionary) for the relevant public, which meaning is not influenced by a lack of consumer complaints and reputation not being an intrinsic quality.
Source: Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA) – Maarten Haak for Lexilogy.