A German movie company has another chance to register a cheeky trademark that regulators had previously deemed too offensive, thanks to a ruling by the EU’s top court on Thursday.
The ruling by the Court of Justice overturns a decision to reject Constantin Film’s attempt to trademark the title that features in a trilogy of movies, “Fack Ju Göhte.”
In 2018, a lower court, the General Court of the EU, backed a refusal by the bloc’s intellectual property office, EUIPO, to register the title. It stated that the title, which includes a phonetic spelling of German poet Goethe’s name, was too similar to the English “fuck you” — and offensive to the revered writer.
But the Court of Justice today found that “no concrete evidence” had been put forward to demonstrate that the title violated “the fundamental moral values and standards of society,” according to a court press release.
Native German speakers don’t necessarily perceive the English phrase “fuck you” in quite the same way native English speakers do, the court observed, even though they understand its meaning.
EUIPO must now issue a new ruling on whether the company can register the title as an EU trademark.
Constantin Film launched the movie franchise to German audiences in 2013. “Fack Ju Göhte” was so popular that “Fack Ju Göhte 2” was released in 2015. “Fack Ju Göhte 3” followed two years later.
The title refers to graffiti daubed on a train by a character in the first movie.
The films have earned the imprimatur of Germany’s prestigious Goethe Institute which, the Court of Justice noted, uses them “for educational purposes.”