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Maucher Jenkins files an invalidation action for DBRD against the BKS "Star of Life" trademarks at the German PTO

Date: 4 December 2020

An invalidation action against two "Star of Life" figurative marks have been filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA). Maucher Jenkins attorneys made the filing on 1 December against the owner of the marks, the private company Bundesverbandes eigenständiger Rettungsdienste und Katastrophenschutz e. V. (BKS).


The "Star of Life" symbol is an internationally recognised symbol used to denote rescue services. As early as August 1964, the World Medical Association (WMA) recommended the worldwide use of the "Star of Life" "as the universal emergency medical information symbol" in a resolution.


The symbol was used long before the BKS filed an application for registration of the trademarks and before the BKS was even founded. And yet, for many years, the BKS has used their trademarks to prohibit non-members from using the "Star of Life" symbol in the field of rescue services and beyond.


The DPMA does not appear to have been aware of universal nature of the symbol at the time of the registration of the two collective marks for the BKS. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), on the other hand, rightly rejected the application in 2014 for a trademark that was only slightly modified to become the "Star of Life" sign on the basis of the generally known meaning of the "Star of Life".


The Deutsche Berufsverband Rettungsdienst e. V. (DBRD) is of the opinion that the BKS unjustifiably appropriated this symbol in Germany via trademark registrations and is wrongly attempting to exclude non-members from its use.


"In our opinion, the 'Star of Life' should be restored to its original purpose in the interest of all persons working in the field of rescue services, namely as a general information symbol for all rescue services and not only for members of the BKS," said Marco K. König, 1st Chairman of the DBRD. "The unrestricted use of the 'Star of Life' in the field of rescue services serves the community and thus all people. For this the DBRD with its nullity applications against the marks stands up. Unfortunately, the BKS was not prepared to give in advance," Mr. König continues.


Maucher Jenkins supports the DBRD with these invalidation actions. Attorney-at-Law Dr. Michael Nielen is responsible for the procedures.



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