Nov 24, 2015

Oslo City Council Left 'Screaming' Over Refusal to Register Munch Trademarks

In Oslo, Norway, there is a portfolio of pending trade mark applications for art which includes the works of the artist Edvard Munch who died in 1944 and the sculptor Gustav Vigeland who died in 1943.


Copyright protection covering the works have recently expired. Oslo City Council would be the benefactor of both estates and would, naturally, like to continue to control the use of the works. In response the the end of the copyright term they have filed over 100 applications for trademarks ("Trademark Applications") in Norway relating to the artists. Some of the applications extended to the EU, China and the US.

The Trademark Applications consist of names, signatures, drawings, painting and pictures of sculptures.


The Norwegian Intellectual Property Office has decided to refuse several applications, including depictions of the famous sculpture Sinnataggen (otherwise known as 'The Angry Boy'), a layout of the Vigeland Park and some pictures of the gates in the park. The examination of the remaining Trademark Applications filed by the City Council have been suspended.

Some of the Trademark Applications including Vigeland's sculptures and Munch's Scream and Madonna have been extended to the EU, US and China. The marks have been registered by OHIM, however they have not been registered in the US or China on the basis that, they are inter alia "ornamental" or "the mark is likely to produce undesirable social consequence" respectively.

In Norway, all seven Trademark Applications made were refused on the grounds of there being a lack of distinctiveness. In addition to this, the Norwegian IPO found that some of the marks were descriptive for jewellery in Class 14 and monuments in Class 19. These marks merely consisted of a shape which confers substantial value to those goods to be registered.

The City Council has appealed to the Board of Appeal.

in: Copyright, News, Trade Marks

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