23 November 2015Trademarks

‘Je suis Paris’ and ‘Pray for Paris’ TM applications rejected

France’s intellectual property office has rejected a number of trademark applications for the terms ‘Je suis Paris’ and ‘Pray for Paris’.

In a statement published on Friday, November 20, the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) said it has rejected the applications on the grounds that they are contrary to ordre public and the terms cannot be used commercially considering the recent events in Paris.

‘Je suis Paris’ and ‘Pray for Paris’ became popular rallying cries for Twitter users following the shootings and bombings in Paris on November 13.

The trademark applications (the number of which is unconfirmed) echo attempts by parties to register the term ‘Je suis Charlie’ earlier this year.

In January, INPI rejected 50 trademark applications for the term due to its widespread use in the “community” following the shooting of 12 people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Jean-Baptiste Bourgeois, a partner at law firm  Bourgeois Rezac Mignon in Paris, said INPI's focus on the violation of ordre public in rejecting the applications means that the office's analysis has a "more solid background".

"This violation of the ordre public would probably be much easier to demonstrate than the lack of distinctiveness," he said, adding that one entity will not be able to take advantage of the "spontaneous reaction of support to victims and people after the terrorist attacks".

Bourgeois said it contrasted with the office's approach to the 'Je suis Charlie' trademark applications, whereby the office cited a wide use of existing marks to determine that the term was not distinctive, arguing that the analysis was "highly questionable".

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