What kind of trademarks cannot be protected (prohibited signs)? | iGERENT

What kind of trademarks cannot be protected (prohibited signs)?

What may be considered as a prohibited sign vary between jurisdictions.

There are a number of International Treaties that mention protected emblems and symbols that may not be included in a trademark, obligating the local trademark office in countries that are a party to such treaties to refuse trademark applications that include them. Furthermore, in certain cases where a trademark may have been registered including a protected symbol, the trademark may be invalidated. 

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property first signed in March 20 1883, along with its numerous revisions, states the following elements as prohibited signs:

- Armorial Bearings

- Flags 

- State Emblems

- Official Signs

- Hallmarks

- Abbreviations and Names of International Intergovernmental Organizations


The Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol adopted on September 26, 1981, states the following elements as prohibited signs:

- Olympic symbol. The treaty defines the Olympic symbol as that consisting of five interlaced rings: blue, yellow, black, green and red, arranged in that order from left to right. It consists of the Olympic rings alone, whether delineated in a single color or in different colors.


Protocol III of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem, of December 8, 2005, states the following elements as prohibited signs:

- Red Cross

- Red Emblem

- Red Lion and Sun

- Red Crystal (for certain uses)


Please bear in mind that the above-mentioned prohibitions may vary in the severity of their interpretation between jurisdictions. Furthermore, local legislation may include other signs to be considered as prohibited. 

For these reasons before proceeding with the filing of your trademark registration application, we strongly recommend that a trademark registrability report be done. This will allow you to have an idea of the probabilities of registration, potentially saving you time and money. 


If you would like to order a trademark assessment report, please click here.