[Source: Taiwan Intellectual Property Office website]

Article 30-1-7 of the Taiwan Trademark Act states that a trademark shall not be registered if it is “contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality.” In an attempt to clarify what conditions or characteristics of trademark are considered contrary to public policy or morality, the Examination Guidelines are drafted (hereinafter “Draft of Examination Guidelines”). Followings are the main objectives to be addressed :

  1. To evaluate grounds of refusal on public order or morality disturbance, the appearance, concept, and pronunciation of a trademark used will have to be considered together with the social context and economic activities at the time of registration, in addition to the designated goods/services of the trademark.
  2. A trademark may be received differently by different groups depending on its designated goods or services, and may be offensive to a particular group of people due to cultural difference. When assessing whether a said trademark is contrary to public order and morality, one should determine in the context of the relevant public instead of the general public. For instance, a trademark consisting elements or features of aboriginal tribes may be offensive to the aboriginal groups in terms of the designated goods/services, or the way the trademark is applied to the designated goods/services in commerce may result in a negative or discriminative impression to a certain group. If this is the case, then the registration of trademark shall be refused pursuant to Article 30-1-7 of the Trademark Act.
  3. Even if the said trademark has positive implications, such as being symbolic to religions, nations, or cultures, it can also be offensive to a relevant public in terms of its designated goods or services. The said trademark’s registration shall be refused if such said trademark arouses social disruption, or adversely affects public interests, social orders, and economic competitions.
  4. Historical or famous deceased figures that have positive reputation and prominent influence on the relevant public can render great commercial value. Besides assessing the distinctiveness of the said trademark, when examining a trademark application involving such famous figure, the famous figure’s degree of fame, the ways the said trademark are to be utilized, the relationship and interaction among the related goods or services, and reasons for registration, etc. should also be taken into consideration. The said trademark registration shall be refused if it arouses negative associations that defame or dishonor the famous figure, or that it adversely affects public interests and the fair competitions in the marketplace.