Saying nyet to a Soviet emblem

Europe’s highest court bans the hammer and sickle from being trademarked
Russian soldiers march during a rehearsal for a military parade in central St.Petersburg, May 4, 2005. Russia is preparing to mark the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two on Sunday. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk Pictures of the month May 2005
Saying nyet to a Soviet emblem
Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

The Cold War is long over, but a recent intellectual property ruling by the European Union’s highest court shows Communism and capitalism are still at war, even in the world of contemporary fashion. The EU’s Court of Justice has ruled that a Russian designer cannot trademark the coat of arms of the former U.S.S.R. in the EU, on the grounds that it is “contrary to public policy and to accepted principles of public morality.” The decision looked at the case of Hungary, where the hammer and sickle is considered a symbol of despotism, with consideration for “the relevant public living in the part of the European Union which has been subject to the Soviet regime.”

The court’s decision was met mainly with accusations of historical revisionism in Russia, where the coat of arms is considered an unavoidable symbol of Russia’s past. But Oleg Smolin of Russia’s Communist party agrees with at least part of the ruling. “I believe it’s incorrect to exploit the [emblem] as a trademark,” Smolin told Voice of Russia. “A person has to earn money using his or her intellectual capabilities rather than those of the creators of the Soviet emblem.”