The French National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) has reported to have received and consequently rejected several applications for the trademark registration of certain widely used phrases 'Pray for Paris' and 'Je suis Paris', since the recent terror attacks in the French capital Paris, on 13 November 2015.
These applications were made by businesses that sought the current vulnerable situation as an opportunity to capitalise on the widespread popularity of compassionate phrases like “Pray for Paris” and “Je Suis Paris”. The latter is an alteration of ‘Je suis Charlie’- a phrase that frequented mass social media following the tragic shootings at French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo offices, earlier this year. The INPI rejected fifty applications for the term following the unfortunate of the magazine in January this year.
"INPI has decided not to register the trademark applications or their variants as they appear to be contrary to public policy," said a statement by the INPI regarding these attempts to monetize the tragedies that have befallen Paris this year. It further said, "Indeed, these marks are composed of words that cannot be captured by a economic actor by virtue of their use and their perception by the community in the light of events on Friday, November 13, 2015." However, certain specialists have suggested that the INPI has rejected these applications in order to prevent violation of public order, rather than the mere lack of uniqueness of the phrases.
According to French lawyer Jean-Baptiste Bourgeois, “The violation of the ordre public would probably be much easier to demonstrate than the lack of distinctiveness”. The lawyer added that no entity should be able to take advantage of the spontaneous sympathetic reaction of support to victims of heinous terrorist attacks.
Cover Imgae: Pablo Tupin-Noriega (Wikimedia France)