The Vatican does not only care about the spiritual well-being of its flock but also about its own intellectual property.

This is what the makers of “InfoVaticana.com” just had to learn as they not only failed with their trademark application „InfoVaticana“ at the Spanish Trademark Office due to likelihood of confusion, but they also have to fear that they will have to rename their website as the Vatican claims its trademark rights. The voluntary renunciation of the keys of St. Peter and the white and yellow presentation will probably not be helpful either.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Ariza, founder of InfoVaticana, sees himself as a victim of a witch hunt which is no longer carried by fire and sword but with the foil of industrial property. Specifically, he suspects the Vatican of wanting to muzzle him as he has repeatedly reported in the past on corruption in the Catholic Church, especially in Spain.

„They just want to shut us down,“ says Ariza. „That would be the same as if the city of New York would deny the New York Times brand rights.“

As expected, the other side regards this differently: The Vatican, through its spokesman Greg Burke, said, „It’s not about ideology or freedom of expression. However, it is not right to give the impression of speaking for the Holy See.“

Legally, neither the reaction of the Vatican nor the decision of the Trademark Office is objectionable since the likelihood of confusion is obvious and the question whether the“ VATICAN” belongs to the pope will remain academic. In addition, InfoVaticana certainly did not choose the sign without reason. Therefore, seeing the Holy Inquisition on the rise seems greatly exaggerated: under a different more neutral character, Mr Ariza will continue to report critically on the Vatican in the future. Until then, an equally critical look in the Trademark Law is recommended.

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