November 2017. Trademarks featuring small flags can’t be registered in the EU. According to the Board of Appeal of the European Trademark Office EUIPO, registering flags as trademarks is prohibited.

On 11 October 2017, the Board rejected an application to register the above sign as an EU trademark

Flags prohibited

The rationale underlying the ban on flags is that each country must be able to retain control over its national flag and the public mustn’t be misled about the origin of the products for which the flag is being used as a trademark.

Trademarks refused Benelux registration; that includes the stars on the EU flag


Many trademark applicants appear to be unaware of this rule, though, since trademarks featuring national flags are regularly turned down. The fact that the flag may only form a small part of the trademark is irrelevant.

European registration refused. The size of the flag is irrelevant

Bas Kist