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The distinctive character of LOL

Print publication

13/06/2016

The High Court of First Instance of Paris gave a judgment in April in which it ruled that trade marks comprising the sign LOL were devoid of distinctive character and, as such, their registrations as trade marks was ordered to be revoked. The case was an infringement action brought by the proprietor of the LOL mark.

The defendant argued that the marks were devoid of distinctive character as the sign was not perceived by the average consumer as an indication of the specific commercial origin of the relevant products – the essence of a trade mark.

The Court agreed, stating that LOL was a common and universal term that the average consumer would recognise – namely as an acronym for “laughing out loud”. As such, the sign LOL was not perceived as a badge of origin of the goods in question.

It is of course possible to acquire distinctiveness through use although it appears that the proprietor in this case had not done so.

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