NO FUN FOR “FUCK JU GÖHTE”
„Unfortunately, we were recommended to the good customs, a decent behaviour, not for their own sake but for the sake of people“
said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in „From my life – poetry and truth“(„Aus meinem Leben – Dichtung und Wahrheit“).
About 200 years later, the law and legislators continue to prove themselves to be „lawyers“ of the „people“ whom Goethe, with his Swabian greeting of Gotz von Berlichingen who was himself not always a child of morality, might have meant.
But one after another:
„Fack Ju Göhte“ is the story of the unsuccessful bank robber Zecki Müller, who against all expectations – and against his will – is a very successful teacher and succeeds in bringing a class of hopeless losers on the right course. Launched in 2013, the trilogy has now attracted more than 21 million viewers to the cinemas, making it the most successful German production of the last 10 years.
No wonder then that Constantin Film Production GmbH, the owner of the copyrights, was interested in protecting its film title „Fack Ju Göhte“ for merchandising in the form of a word mark for all sorts of fantasy-inspiring goods and services, including „grease-removing and abrasive products“. But, however, even in the most recent attempt it was in vain as the European Court has now refused the trademark registration with the decision T-69/17.
The moral painting began in April 2015 when the responsible EUIPO examiner decided, among other things, that „Fack ju“ was understood by the German public as an insult to „fuck you“ and rejected the registration because of the violation of good morals.
In the second act of the drama, the production company appealed to the EUIPO Board of Appeal, the phrase „Fuck you“ according to Constantin, has no sexual meaning, but is a common curse. The trademark application „Fack ju Göhte“ accordingly verbalizes in „jesting and youthful manner“ the well-known school frustration, the famous writer is merely a placeholder. In this context and because of its connection to the famous school comedy, the trademark application spreads „cheerfulness and amusement.“ The registration of the semantically comparable brand „LECK MICH SCHILLER“ also speaks for the allowability of the present trade mark application.
But EUIPO did not hesitate to live up to its reputation as a European fun brake. The reasoning in which the complaint was rejected states that „state and administrative organs should not actively support those who use brands that defy certain basic values of a civilized society in order to promote their business purposes […]“. And even the German poet laureate seems to have a special protection status at the EUIPO, because it continues to say: “ The fact that the respected and much revered Goethe is posthumously denigrated in such a derogatory and vulgar way, even in faulty orthography, can by no means significantly distract from the hurtful and contrary to the good manners character of the insult „Fack Ju / Fuck you“.
With its sour review of EUIPO’s decision, the European Court has raised the bar for going to the ECJ even higher. According to the judges, the alienated spelling of the term „Fuck you“ is not enough to give it a satirical, jocular and playful content. In other words, the relevant public may be sufficiently interested but they are too stupid to recognize a joke in creative writing.
What should one say? Perhaps simply „Fack ju“.