While roaming the internet after Oktoberfest-related issues, I observed that upon conducting a google search for the word “Oktoberfest“, many results provided photos of the “traditional” Oktoberfest Beer waitress costume.

Putting aside the much annoying fact that all costumes are for women, I wonder if one can gain exclusive Intellectual Property rights as to the traditional costume.

From one point of view, these are TRADITIONAL clothing, hence result from years of tradition which obviously is public domain. On the other hand, the costumes are diverse so it can be argued that every change, small or even minimal, might constitute an intellectual property right (what kind, is a different topic).

Trademark issues are even more interesting when inspecting the IP protection for the word “Oktoberfest”. Almost 1,000 trademark applications were filed in different countries aiming to gain exclusive rights in the mark “Oktoberfest” for different goods and services. Some applications were neglected for different reasons and some were accepted and registered.

Such is the mark OKTOBERFEST registered in the Philippines for the following services: “month-long beer festival of san miguel in which there would be events and promotions like concerts, beer and food stalls, contests, stalls in which promotional/novelty items are sold” (PH Registration number 4-2005-314 in class 41) or the surprisingly similar mark – OKTOBERFEST – registered in Turkey for “beers and preparations used in brewing” (TR Registration number 2012 14526 in class 32) and by a different owner registered for electronic devices and games (TR Registration number 2016 25649 in classes 9 and 28).

It seems that anyone can apply for the registration of this mark, for any goods and services, with no limitations other than being the first in a specific classification.

In Israel, by the way, the mark is not registered. Yet. Surprising in itself.

More surprising is the fact that the domain name “octoberfest.com” is apparently free to be purchased through GoDaddy‘s auction services. Another fact worth further investigation.

Last but not least, upon checking with the domain name “octoberfest.de” in Germany (as mentioned, the origin of the term), I discovered that it is operated by the Official Website for the Oktoberfest in Munich, that sadly published that the Oktoberfest 2021 will not take place due to the corona pandemic.

A grim ending to a fairly positive article.

Adi Barkan-Lev

About Adi Barkan-Lev

An experienced attorney specializing in Intellectual Property matters. Providing consulting, prosecution and legal services in all areas of Intellectual Property, including copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, patents, commercial wrongs, counterfeit goods and imitations.