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World Trademark Review: Youth organisation overcomes refusal to register ‘slang’ mark

Lietuvos Jaunimo Organizacijų Taryba has successfully overcome the Lithuanian State Patent Bureau’s objection to the registration of the mark MAN NE DZIN for various services in Classes 35 and 41 based on absolute grounds.

 

Background

On 27 October 2021 Lithuanian association Lietuvos Jaunimo Organizacijų Taryba applied for registration of the national figurative trademark MAN NE DZIN (No 2021 2191) (depicted below) for advertising, public relations, lobbying, education, training and other services in Classes 35 and 41:

On 9 December 2021 the examiner of the State Patent Bureau issued a decision refusing to register the mark for all services in Classes 35 and 41 on the ground that it was in breach of Article 7(1)(6) of the Law on Trademarks of the Republic of Lithuania, since it was considered contrary to good morals or public policy.

The examiner stated that the word ‘dzin’ is a slang word which, according to a Lithuanian slang dictionary dating from 2007, meant irrelevance or indifference, while the expression ‘man ne dzin’ meant ‘I care’. The examiner stated that the expression ‘man ne dzin’ conflicted with Lithuania’s Law on the State Language, which prohibits the use of non-standard, slang terms in the public language, as well as in outdoor advertising and inscriptions, as trademarks are part of the public language. The examiner also referred to court practice in similar cases, which confirmed that the State Patent Bureau should not register trademarks containing non-standard, slang words, as such trademarks would infringe the Law on the State Language.

Re-examination decision

On 11 January 2021 the applicant filed a request for re-examination of the application, arguing that the expression ‘man ne dzin’ had become part of the common Lithuanian language. The applicant also provided information about the use of the mark MAN NE DZIN in its activity.

It is noteworthy that the word ‘dzin’ was originally an interjection describing the sound of strings or a bell, corresponding to the English ‘ring’, ‘ping’ or ‘ding’. The word ‘dzin’ has been used for many years in Lithuania in slang language to describe a person’s negligent, careless attitude. The expression ‘man dzin’ means ‘I do not care’, while ‘man de dzin’ means ‘I care’. However, language is a live organism and evolves every day. In 2009 the Commission of the Lithuanian Language interviewed the population and the word ‘dzin’ was selected as one of the 10 funniest Lithuanian interjections. Since then, the word ‘dzin’ – with its meaning of indifference and irrelevance – has been entered into various dictionaries of common Lithuanian language.

The applicant is a non-governmental youth organisation established in 1992, which unites national youth organisations and municipal youth organisation councils. The applicant acts in the field of youth education and consultation, coordination of international youth projects, participation in activities related to youth politics and preparation of legal act projects related to relevant youth subjects.

From 2004 the applicant has organised social responsibility support campaigns for young people under the name ‘Man ne dzin’, which encouraged young people to participate in public social life, have an opinion and be an active citizen of Lithuania, and strengthened the perception of young people as to their power in society. The applicant ran several campaigns under the name ‘Man ne dzin’, which were recognised for their accessibility and spread. In 2019 the campaign targeted the participation of young people in Lithuania’s presidential elections; it was very successful as 46% of young people voted, which was much higher compared to earlier elections. In 2020 the campaign was repeated, inviting young people to participate in the elections of the Lithuanian parliament (Seimas); however, the percentage of young voters (38,7%) was lower due to the pandemic.

After considering the information provided by the applicant, on 12 January 2022 the examiner accepted the mark for registration. The trademark registration certificate was issued on 27 May 2022.

 

This article first appeared in WTR Daily, part of World Trademark Review, in May, 2022. For further information, please go to www.worldtrademarkreview.com

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