Relative obstacle to protection

A Relative ground for refusal in trademark law refers to the restriction of the registration of a trademark due to existing rights or claims of third parties. In contrast to absolute grounds for refusal, which arise from the nature of the trademark itself, relative grounds for refusal arise from conflicts with existing trademark rights or other third-party rights.

There are different types of relative grounds for refusal:

  1. Older trademark rights: If an identical or similar trademark is already registered or used by another company and has earlier trademark rights, this may constitute a relative ground for refusal.
  2. Name and personality rights: The use of names, images or other elements that infringe protected name or personality rights may constitute a relative obstacle to protection.
  3. Copyright: If the trademark contains elements that are protected by copyright, this can lead to a relative ground for refusal.
  4. Business names: The use of a trademark that is similar to an existing business name may constitute a relative ground for refusal.
  5. Geographical indications of source: The use of geographical designations or indications of source that are already protected can lead to a relative ground for refusal.

The patent and trademark offices do not examine trademark applications for relative grounds for refusal.

Due to the relative grounds for refusal, which can subsequently invalidate a trademark registration, a Trademark search advisable.

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