Absolute grounds for refusal

The German Trademark Act lists some absolute grounds for the refusal of a trademark application. The following trademarks cannot be registered:

  • which are devoid of any distinctive character for the goods or services;
  • which consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve, in trade, to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or of rendering of the services, or other characteristics of the goods or services;
  • which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade to designate the goods or services;
  • which are of such a nature as to deceive the public, for instance as to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services;
  • which are contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality;
  • which contain state coats of arms, state flags or other state symbols or coats of arms of a domestic locality or of a domestic municipal or other local authority association;
  • which contain official signs or hallmarks indicating control or warranty;
  • which contain coats of arms, flags or other signs, seals or designations of international intergovernmental organizations;
  • the use of which can evidently be prohibited in the public interest in accordance with other provisions.

Relative grounds for refusal

  • If identical or similar trademarks are registered in Germany or as an EU trademark or as an international trademark with protection in Germany.

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