Thursday, 1 October 2009


Fashionista is relieved to learn that she can continue to make use of ! without fear of complaint(!!!) - really? Well, the Court of First Instance has rejected an appeal by Joop!, the German fashion and fragrance brand, against a refusal to register the final element of it's name, the !, as a trade mark for clothing and fragrance.

To be registered a mark must be distinctive and that was the downfall for !. The CFI concluded that ! is not distinctive and the shopping public would see ! "as mere laudatory advertising, or as an eye-catching gimmick, and not as an indication of the commercial origin of those goods."

In addition, and the final blow for this application, was the finding that Joop! had failed to persuade the court that its use of ! had been such as to make ! distinctive for its products and no one else's. All Joop! had submitted was three photographs of jeans carrying some sort of label with a !. Not good enough and could try harder was the report . . . . . (!).

So, no monopoly in ! for Joop!, or at least not for now.

Fashionista can see the value of obtaining a registration of something as simple as ! but also recognises that for something as ubiquitous as ! it will not be an easy task. Surely,the lesson for those who wish to monopolise symbols such as ! is that it can be done but be very ready and prepared to show that the symbol really does mean you and your products. Otherwise, you may be left thinking or saying ****!