November 2017. German communications agency Achtung has failed in a bid to register its logo as a European trademark. According to the Board of Appeal (BOA) of European Trademark Office EUIPO, the word isn’t sufficiently distinctive.

Promotional descriptor

To begin with, the German word ‘achtung’ is merely a promotional descriptor, the BOA ruled, and can’t be claimed as a trademark. Secondly, the design of the logo lacks distinctiveness: the soft grey colour, uncapitalised letter ‘a’ and orange superscript exclamation mark were all found to be common graphic elements which added nothing.

The word ‘achtung’

You can understand the argument that in Germany the word achtung may lack sufficient distinctive capacity (however, isn’t ‘achtung’ a striking name for a communications bureau, and one that sticks in the mind?).


But the fact that the BOA is making such heavy weather of the design elements in the logo, is in our opinion surprising. After all, if you look at the logo as a whole, we would say the yellow accent combined with the soft grey lettering makes it perfectly distinctive and recognisable. But they clearly think otherwise at the European Trademark Office. And ‘achtung’ isn’t the only such trademark to be rejected:


Examples of designs (unjustly?) regarded by EUIPO as lacking distinctive capacity.

Bas Kist