EU court rules against La Mafia catering trademark | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 15.03.2018
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EU court rules against La Mafia catering trademark

EU judges have failed to see the funny side of branding a chain of pizzerias as "The Mafia." They rejected an appeal by a Spanish company to keep trademark protection for its controversial marketing slogan.

The European Union's General Court in Luxembourg sided with a complaint by the Italian government, saying Thursday it was immoral to trade on the name of a "criminal organization" whose activities "breach the very values on which the EU is founded."

The ruling, which can be appealed to the European Court of Justice, said that the EU Intellectual Property Office was right to accept Italy's demand in 2015 to cancel a 10-year-old trademark held by La Mafia Franchises in Madrid. It runs a national chain offering pizzas, pasta and other Italian cuisine. It operates about 40 restaurants across Spain.

The General Court argued the company's logo conveyed a globally positive image of the Mafia by trivializing the serious harm it had done to fundamental EU values.

Alluding to 'The Godfather'

"That mark is therefore likely to shock or offend not only victims of the Mafia, but anybody with average sensitivity and tolerance thresholds," the court said in a statement.

Rejecting the company's arguments about alluding to "The Godfather" films, the judges said it was not right to grant legal protection to the slogan "La Mafia se sienta a la mesa" ("The Mafia is at the table"), because it promoted an organization known for extortion, corruption and murder.

The court's decision does not prevent the firm from using the slogan, but means it can't rely on trademark protection to stop others from using it without permission.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)

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