Buddha "barred"

The Italian Supreme Court has recently ruled on the validity of the Buddha Bar trademark and the outcome is that Buddha's name cannot be used by anyone on an exclusive basis to "denote a product or service".

The Supreme Court, dismissed the appeal proposed by the companies George V Entertainment and George V Records which run the well-known bar in Paris and which wanted to prevent the Buddha-café in Milan, ran by an Italian entrepreneur, to be called so.

Plaintiffs arguments on the other hand were that the association between the words “Buddha” and “Bar” created a highly distinctive trademark asthe concepts conveyed by the two words were quite distant and therefore it created a string trademark.

The Supreme Court in the end held that if the trademark was valid, it could end up offending the religious feelings of Buddhists who would see a spiritual leader reduced to distinctive logo of a café-restaurant and for this reason it confirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Milan.