After trying in vain to obtain trademark protection for the term “Oktoberfest” both in Germany and Europe since 2016, the city of Munich has now triumphed. The city was successful with its appeal against a ruling of The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) from last year where the EUIPO had dismissed the request of the Bavarian capital in the first instance (inside.beer, 24.9.2019). So far, the EUIPO had largely rejected the protection because the term "Oktoberfest" was too general in its opinion. In addition, “Okoberfest beer” is already a registered trade mark by the Verein Münchener Brauereien e. V, and the court refused to protect a very similar trademark for identical goods.
After the new decision, the trademark is now valid, among other things, for a whole range of licensed souvenir objects such as glasses, toys textiles, soaps and a range of services. The city of Munich can now ask manufacturers of these goods which use the trademark to pay royalties or even prohibit the use of it for certain goods or services if it believes it to be inappropriate. However, the office rejected trademark protection for beer, other drinks and food. It is still also not possible to ban the more than 2,000 Oktoberfests in other cities.
The appeal court of the EUIPO argued that it is true that there are folk festivals in Germany and also in other countries, i.e. Austria, which are called “Oktoberfest”, including the “Oktoberfest Wien”. However, there is no evidence that consumers assume that the city of Munich is also responsible for organizing these festivals, as was the case with the Munich Oktoberfest and therefore the city of Munich should not receive protection for these events.
The Board of Appeal added that the designation “Münchener Oktoberfest”, for example, was also open to unprotected use. The City of Munich was happy to use this reference and filed yesterday two applications for new Union word marks: „Münchener Oktoberfest“ and „Oktoberfest München“.
The city of Munich had also been able to protect “Wiesn” and “Oide Wiesn” and other European trade marks containing the word element “Wiesn”, such as Wiesnbier, Wiesnkracherl and Wiesn Fashion as a European word mark.
Clemens Baumgärtner, Spokesperson for Labor and Economy of the City of Munich, assessed the decision in an initial statement as "very gratifying and expedient". It enables the city "to protect the cultural heritage of the Oktoberfest as much as possible, especially from free riders.”