Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 19:02 UK

German triple-barrelled ban holds

A couple wearing wedding rings
Adding names together, common after marriage, has a limit in Germany

Germany's highest court has upheld a law which makes it illegal for anyone to use more than two last names.

A married couple challenged the 1993 law after they were forbidden from joining their surnames - one of which is already a double-barrelled name.

Frieda Rosemarie Thalheim married Hans-Peter Kunz-Hallstein in 1997 but both had wanted to retain their surnames.

The court ruled surnames made of three or more different names made it more difficult to trace back a family line.

After the ruling, Hans-Peter Kunz-Hallstein told the BBC he and his wife were disappointed.

"We're married," he said, "and we want to show it."

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