An, er, enterprising individual has attempted to register the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” as a trademark in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The Benelux Trademarks Office told El Reg on Tuesday that it had received an application in Dutch to register the slogan just one day after the staff of Charlie Hebdo were murdered in an extremist attack last Wednesday.
Je Suis Charlie was quickly picked up globally as a cry of solidarity in defence of freedom of expression.
Many have been quick to condemn the attempt to cash in on the atrocity, although this is not the first such attempt, as T-shirts bearing the slogan were for sale in Paris just days afterwards.
Belgian resident Yanick Uytterhaegen’s trademark application covers multiple products including laundry and cleaning products, printed matter, clothing, footwear, toys, decorations for Christmas trees, fruit juices, and even beer.
However, Knijff Trademark Attorneys, one of the largest trademark firms in the Netherlands, says it is uncertain whether the Benelux Trademarks Office would accept Je Suis Charlie as a trademark. “It will probably will see the slogan as an endorsement and not as a trademark,” said the company in a blog post.
Pieter Veeze from the legal division of the Benelux Trademarks Office (BOIP) agreed. “The main reason we refuse a trademark is lack of distinctiveness. For example last year an attempt to trademark 'Allah' was rejected,” he explained.
Veeze said that BOIP’s weekly legal meeting will take place tomorrow and the application will probably be discussed.
Third parties have two months to make an objection to a trademark application, but this must be based on possible infringement of a prior trademark. The office can also reject an application on so-called absolute grounds. ®