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28th January 2015

Nutty French antics

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28th January 2015

Nutty French antics


A recent article in the IPKAT caught my IP eye concerning the decision of a French court to step in and stop a set of French parents from naming their baby girl Nutella after the well known (and much loved in my household) chocolate & hazelnut spread. Like English parents, usually French parents are free to choose which ever wild and wacky names they prefer for their offspring. However, unlike in the UK, I read that local French prosecutors are ’empowered to report what they deem to be ‘unsuitable’ names to the French family court’. What a subjective and intriguing concept! Apparently, the Judge believed that ” it [was] contrary to the child’s interest to have a name that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts”. I assume that Nutella does not often feature on his breakfast table.

I was fascinated to see whether some intricacy of French trade mark law might enable a well known trade mark to prevent its use as a personal name where there is clearly no confusion (or likelihood of association) and no use of the brand in the course of trade – two of fundamentals in UK trade mark law.

But it seems that this was a family court matter and nothing to do with IP at all, but nonetheless was worthy of comment!

One wonders whether a decision to call a child ‘Marmite’ might have invoked a similar reaction in the local prosecutor….

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