EU Court Rejects “Mafia” Restaurant Trademark

  • Trademark Clearance

The European Union’s General Court last week rejected an appeal by a Spanish company to keep European trademark protection for its marketing slogan its marketing slogan “La Mafia se sienta a la mesa” (translation: “The Mafia’s at the table”). The court agreed with a complaint by the Italian government that it was immoral to trade on the name of a criminal organization that it said is known for a long list of criminal activities, which it enumerated, including money laundering, racketeering, and drug trafficking.

The chain, La Mafia, which operates 40 Italian-food restaurants in Spain applied for an EU-wide trademark with the EUIPO in 2006. The trademark features lettering that resembles that of ‘The Godfather’ films, along with the “take a seat at the table” slogan.

In 2015, the EUIPO revoked the La Mafia trademark following a claim made by the Italian government “that it cheapened the seriousness of the Mafia and glamourized the criminal organization,” The Telegraph reports, and was “contrary to public policy and to accepted principles of morality.” The restaurant company appealed the EUIPO decision claiming that its “La Mafia se sienta a la mesa” slogan referred to ‘The Godfather’ films, rather than to the real-life criminal syndicate.

In last week’s ruling, the EU judges stated that the trademark must be declared invalid since it was “likely to shock or offend” Mafia victims and their families, in addition to people with “average sensitivity and tolerance thresholds.” Calling the Mafia’s criminal activities “a serious threat to security throughout the EU,” the ruling went on to say: “Those criminal activities breach the very values on which the EU is founded, in particular the values of respect for human dignity and freedom, which are indivisible and make up the spiritual and moral heritage of the EU.”