Freedom of (Trademarking) Religion

Submitted by patentadmin on Mon, 01/07/2013 - 21:12

An artist in Holland just found out that he can't trademark the name of Allah.

Artist Teun Castelein filed an application with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP), which is headquartered in The Hague, to register "Allah" as a black-on-white typograhic logo. But shortly thereafter he learned that his request was rejected - despite the fact that he claims "Jesus" and "God" have been accepted as registered trademarks by the BOIP. And in India, a lawsuit arose a few years ago when two companies produced dairy products under brand names that both included the word "Krishna."

But back to our frustrated artist:

"I can only conclude that, according to the BOIP, all religions are not equal. I don't agree; all religions must be treated the same," said Castelein of the BOIP's decision on his trademark request.

Here in the U.S., you cannot trademark "Terms that Disparage, Falsely Suggest a Connection with, or Bring a Person, Institution, Belief or National Symbol into Contempt or Disrepute." But there are several trademarks involving the word "Jesus" and "God," mainly for use on religious-themed jewelry, clothing and printed matter.

And in Canada, "Jesus Christ" is a registered trademark for a garment manufacturer from whom you can even order directly - just follow the instructions on the website: "Make your CHEQUE or MONEY ORDER payable to Jesus Christ. Sorry, no credit cards, or coins."

So can you trademark deities or religious figures? Looks like it depends on where you live and what you intend to do with the trademark. And trademarking "Allah" in order to "test the limits of the free market" apparently doesn't cut it in The Hague.

Add new comment