ST JOHN'S applicant succeeds in crusade against provisional refusal


The Latvian Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has overturned an earlier provisional decision to refuse the registration of the mark ST JOHN'S (Case WO 732579, February 8 2005).

Plus Warenhandelsgesellschaft mbH (Plus), a German company, applied to register the mark for alcoholic beverages, specifically spirits. The PTO issued a provisional refusal on absolute grounds pursuant to Article 6(1)(6) of the Latvian Law on Trademarks and Indications of Geographical Origin. It concluded that the registration of a saint's name for alcoholic beverages would breach public order and moral principles.

Following the refusal, Plus filed a substantiated response. Its submission contained the following points:

  • The name St John or Saint John is widely used around the world as a geographical name.

  • St John is not perceived in Latvia as the name of a saint since the Latvian equivalent is Svētais Jānis.

  • The use of the ST JOHN'S mark in relation to alcohol should not be seen as a breach of public order or moral principles since the use of wine is commonplace in Christian rituals.

  • Since ancient times wine has been produced in vineyards of monasteries and many famous wines come from places named after saints, such as St Georges and St Emilion.

In addition, Plus provided a list of third-party marks registered for alcoholic beverages, which also contain the names of saints.

The PTO accepted Plus's arguments and reversed its earlier decision.

Valentina Sergeyeva, Strahlberg & Partners, Riga

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