Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 13:27 UK

Exclamation marks not trademarks!

Two exclamation marks, one in a box
The court ruled that even the box did not make the mark distinctive

An exclamation mark cannot be registered as a trademark, the European Court of First Instance has ruled.

The German clothing and perfume company Joop! applied to register the punctuation mark both on its own and inside a rectangle.

It decided that consumers would not automatically associate exclamation marks with the company.

It ruled that putting the exclamation mark in a rectangle just made it look like a label.

The court added that Joop! had failed to show that the exclamation mark would be associated with the company's products, and said that the evidence submitted had referred only to the German market, not the whole European Union.

The judgement said that "the only evidence submitted consists of three photos of jeans to which a piece of cloth, or a label, is attached showing an exclamation mark", which the court decided was inadequate.

Joop! was appealing against an initial ruling by OHIM, the European trademark office.



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