The phrase "fack ju" can be registered as a trademark, according to an EU court which overruled a group of offended trademark lawyers.
Despite the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) declaring years ago that the title of the film Fack ju Göhte (that's Goethe) was "vulgar" and in "bad taste," the European Court of Justice has now told the thin-skinned trademark office to think again.
Fack ju Göhte is a 2013 German comedy film that spawned two sequels. A couple of years after the original's release, the film's producer applied to the EUIPO to trademark its name.
Unusually, the body had a fit of the vapours and refused to register it because the misspelled words sounded like "fuck you, Goethe" and were therefore too offensive to be a trademark. Less prudish EU judges ruled today that this was silly, however.
"Although, in its original meaning, the English phrase 'Fuck you' had a sexual connotation and was vulgar, it could also be used in a different context to express anger, mistrust or contempt for a person," intoned the court in its judgment.
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Citing the fact that millions of Germans and Austrians had watched the film, the EU judges then said: "The title of the comedies was not perceived as morally unacceptable by the German-speaking public at large," adding that "sensitivity in the mother tongue may be greater than in a foreign language".
The residents of a certain Austrian village are familiar with this idea*.
The EU General Court noted that in the past the EUIPO had granted trademarks including the words "fucking hell" and, obscurely, "MACAFUCKER" (In the Night garden anyone?). We'll let our readers do the internet searches on those for themselves. ®
* Norwegian state telly broadcaster NRK made a video last year about the Austrian village, which we have embedded below for the edification of our readers.