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To have a glass of Masaryk? Not in ČR

19. 6. 2008
Slovak vintner complains of discrimination

Brno - The name of the first president of Czechoslovakia - Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk - is so sacrosanct in the Czech Republic that Slovak vintner Alojz Masaryk will have to rebrand his wines.

The name is considered a historical symbol linked to the Czech statehood and as such, private companies are not allowed to use it in their names.

The story of Alojz Masaryk, a notable vintner from Slovakia, proves the above said.

"High symbolic value"

Alojz Masaryk has been trying to have the brand name "Masaryk" he uses for his enterprise registered in the Czech Republic. His logo uses the word "Masaryk" and is accompanied by four black triangles.

The Industrial Property Office, however, refused his application.

"In the Czech Republic, the word 'Masaryk' is understood above all as the surname of the first president of Czechoslovakia. The proposed trade mark thus constitutes an item of high symbolic value for which it cannot be included in the index of trade marks," explained the Industrial Property Office´s representatives when Alojz Masaryk's application was refused for the first time.  

"Unconstitutional and illegal decision"

Alojz Masaryk however did not give up the trade mark and launched a protest. He assured the office that his mark cannot be confused with the first Czechoslovak president's surname, claiming to be an offspring of the Masaryk lineage oldest generation.

"The decision is unconstitutional and illegal. I am not allowed even to register my surname. I am "handicapped" because of my name forever," stated Alojz Masaryk in his appeal.

At first, Alojz Masaryk complained about being discriminated against because of his nationality.

However, he didn't succeed with this argument in his appeal. Head of the Czech Industrial Property Office Karel Čada stated that the trade mark "Masaryk" would simply not be registered.

Masaryk Science Park

"The role of T.G. Masaryk in founding Czechoslovakia is so outstanding that it [his surname] bears a historical symbol evoking the Czech statehood," explained the officials in their letter of refusal.

For Alojz Masaryk, there is still one option - to file an appeal with a court.

The Slovak vintner is not the first to try to have the trade mark "Masaryk" registered. In mid-1990s, the office refused to give this trade mark to a German tobacco producer.

Ironically, soon the city of Prague is going to have a housing project called "Masaryk Science Park".

Unlike former president Masaryk, incumbent president Václav Klaus has a number of ´competitors´ fighting for using his surname for their products. There is a number of products named Klaus in Germany.

The Czech Republic did not allow private businessmen to use the trade mark "Klaus" for producing ties and suits.

autor: Tomáš Fránek | 19. 6. 2008

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