“Migrantifa” not protected as a trademark


Credit Protestfotografie Frankfurt

Register left-wing political terms as trade marks and cash in – that’s what an entrepreneur from Warburg thought. He applied for Europe-wide trade mark protection for the term ‘Migrantifa’, which has been used by anti-racist initiatives for years to express solidarity with refugees and anti-racism.

The trade mark was registered with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 2021. In October 2022, represented by a lawyer, he wrote to the association Clandestini e.V. from Darmstadt about an alleged trade mark infringement; this association had sold T-shirts with the inscription ‘MIGRANTIFA’ to finance the anti-racist alliance ‘We’ll Come United’, among other things. In his lawyer’s letter, the trade mark owner made it very clear what he was after: The payment of licence fees.

The association refused to be intimidated and applied to the EUIPO for the trade mark to be declared invalid. The authority now followed suit and ruled that the registered term lacked any distinctive character. ‘Migrantifa’ is understood ‘as a purely (socio-)political statement’.
‘The procedure of turning political terms into money through trade mark law is an attack on our political work. We have resolutely opposed this – with success,’ explains Rola Saleh from the “We’ll Come United” network. ‘Migrantifa stands for a movement with the aim of building a solidary, anti-racist and anti-fascist society together. The decision is an important step against the instrumentalisation of our terms for private gain.’

Lawyer Dr Jasper Prigge, who is representing the association in the proceedings before the EUIPO, emphasises: ‘Trade marks cannot be used to monopolise political terms. Anyone attempting to enrich themselves from political movements must expect those affected to defend themselves. In addition to the registration costs, the trade mark owner now has to bear the costs of the invalidity proceedings. All in all, not a good deal. The EUIPO’s decision is not yet final and the trade mark owner can lodge an appeal.

The cancellation decision of the EUIPO is published in anonymised form under the following link: