October 2019. Each new trademark application in the Benelux is subjected to a stringent assessment by the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP). If a trademark is found to be insufficiently distinctive or contains restricted symbols (such as a flag), BOIP will refuse registration. Below are examples of trademarks that have recently been rejected.

Trademark refused

Chiever says

The word fuifje (‘small party’ in Dutch) was refused registration for parties and concerts, even with a yellow background.
Despite being a perfectly acceptable device mark to distinguish soaps and support tights, Swiss Blue’s trademark was refused. The reason? That Swiss flag, which, like other flags, can’t be registered as a trademark.
This blue colour mark which Dow Chemical tried to register for insulation material has been refused. That’s because getting trademark protection for a single colour is now extremely difficult.
A fairly generic pot featuring the word ‘Boerensmeerkaas’ [Farm-fresh cheese spread] isn’t apparently distinctive enough to be registered as a trademark.
EasyFiks is a non-starter, the Trademark Office no doubt thought, and concluded that it wasn’t sufficiently distinctive as a trademark for bleach, despite the colours used.

Risk assessment

If there’s any chance that a new trademark might be refused for being insufficiently distinctive, Chiever will always discuss these risks before the client incurs the costs of an application. As a result, we’ll sometimes advise you not to apply or else to add word or image elements to the trademark to make it sufficiently distinctive and thus acceptable for registration. Our wide experience means we’re good at assessing the distinctive capacity of a trademark and the likelihood of refusal. Although honesty compels us to admit that very occasionally, an unexpected decision may occur. After all, at the end of the day, distinctive capacity remains a subjective matter.


Bas Kist