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The third part of the comedy titled Fack ju Göhte was the second box-office earner in Germany in 2017. However, that did not prevent the European Union General Court (the “EGC”) from rejecting registration of the trademark corresponding to the movie’s name Fack ju Göhte in its judgment of January 24, 2018. This was due to the insult to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the renowned German writer of the Romantic movement who died in 1832 and after whom the German public institute that promotes and spreads the German language and culture worldwide is named.

In line with the EU regulation on Community trademarks prohibiting the registration of trademarks that are contrary to public order or to good practices, the EGC rejects the registration of the trademark given that the pronunciation in German of “Fack ju” is identical to the English expression “Fuck you,” implying that its meaning is also identical. The court adds that this is “not only an insult of bad taste, but that it is shocking and vulgar.”

The judgment backs the decision of the Fifth Board of Appeal of the European Union Intellectual Property Office of December 1, 2016 in case R 2205/2015-5, which concludes that “the fact that a respected writer such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is insulted after his death in such a degrading and vulgar way, and moreover using incorrect spelling, cannot in any way reduce the offensive character contrary to good practices of the insult ‘Fack Ju/Fuck you’.” Also, the judgment states that this is not the first time that registration of a trademark has been rejected for these reasons, giving as an example the rejection of a trademark in 2012 for a brand of liqueurs ¡Que buenu ye! HIJOPUTA (Delicious. SON OF A BITCH) considering that it was “contrary to public order and good practices.”

The movie’s producer, Constantin Films, can appeal the EGC’s judgment with the highest European court: the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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