Bavaria can own Neuschwanstein Castle brand, rules ECJ | News | DW | 06.09.2018
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Bavaria can own Neuschwanstein Castle brand, rules ECJ

Neuschwanstein is not only located in Bavaria; its brand now also belongs to the southern German state. The top EU court ruled that Bavaria can trademark the castle's name, much to the dismay of the souvenir industry.

The European Court of Justice (EJC) ruled on Thursday that Bavaria is allowed to trademark Neuschwanstein Castle and use it as a brand.

The court rejected an appeal by a German network of souvenir producers (BSGE) that hoped the EU's top court would reject the trademark for the famous fairy-tale castle.

The association argued that the name "Neuschwanstein" indicates a geographical location and can therefore not be trademarked.

Test your knowledge of Germany with DW's Bavaria Quiz

Under EU law, trademarks that exclusively refer to the place where goods are manufactured are excluded from registration. The law particularly protects manufacturers from misrepresenting the origins of certain products like wine, spirits and certain foods.

In their decision, the ECJ wrote that Neuschwanstein Castle "could be geographically located, but not regarded as a geographical place." Instead, the castle is most like a museum and serves to preserve cultural heritage.

The judges also added that the BSGE was not able to prove that the state of Bavaria applied for the trademark "in bad faith."

Higher costs for souvenir industry

Thursday's ruling ends a yearslong dispute between Bavaria and the souvenir industry, which worried its business could suffer if Bavaria held the exclusive naming rights to one of Germany's most iconic tourist attractions.

The decision also means that the state of Bavaria can decide which manufacturers and which products are allowed to use the name "Neuschwanstein."

A spokesperson with the Bavarian Palace Department confirmed to the dpa news agency that the state has already started selling licensing agreements for the "Neuschwanstein" name.

The state of Bavaria, which also owns the castle, applied to register the name "Neuschwanstein" as a trademark for souvenir items both nationally and EU-wide in 2011. A lower EU court sided with the German state in a ruling in 2016.

The Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869 by the eccentric Bavarian King Ludwig II. It's one of the most famous castles in Europe and sees around 1.4 million visitors per year, according to the Bavarian Palace Department.

rs/sms (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA)

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