Brexit: is it offensive?
The issue of offensive trade marks has been in the news quite a bit of late. Now, the European trade mark authorities have considered whether Brexit, the term used to describe the UK’s departure from the European Union, is a trade mark that might offend.
It might seem like an unlikely trade mark, but clearly some people think that Brexit works as an indicator of commercial origin. When a company filed an application to register an EU trade mark for Brexit in respect of a range of products, including non-alcoholic drinks, beers and electronic cigarettes, two objections were raised. One was that Brexit isn’t distinctive. The other was that Brexit offends public order or morality.
The most interesting point was that the BOA felt that the word Brexit is not one that might provoke hatred, disorder or the like. It made some interesting comments here. It accepted that Brexit is “a contentious and controversial topic” but, it went on to say that the mere fact that something is controversial does not make it offensive or contrary to public policy. It said that Brexit is not “a provocation or incitement to crime or disorder”. It is not “an emblem for … discrimination of any kind”. It is not a “synonym for social unrest”. It is not a “byword for hate … racism or anything of the sort.”
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