“Pablo Escobar” Trademark Cannot Be Registered in the European Union

With decision of April 28th 2023, Euipo rejected the registration application of European Union trademark “Pablo Escobar Plata o Plomo Medellin” as considered to be contrary to public policy and principles of morality.

The EU trademark “Pablo Escobar Plata o Plomo Medellin” case

On August 8th 2022 the application for registration of the figurative trademark “PABLO ESCOBAR PLATA O PLOMO MEDELLIN” – requested to distinguish clothing articles, shoes and hats – was filed.

The receiving Office raised an objection for the contrariety to public policy of the sign, pursuant to EUTMR art. 7 (1) (f).  It was in fact evident that the requested trademark referred to Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, the well-known Colombian drug trafficker and terrorist.

Pablo Escobar is considered one of the most brutal drug lords ever existed and he was the first to industrialize the traffic of drugs on a broader scale, accumulating a wealth that, to this day, is considered to be the highest of the history of criminality.

The reference to the so-called Medellin cartel, that is the criminal organization founded by Escobar and taken down only in the early 90’s, after the death of its leader, is just as clear.

Besides the name of the criminal, the requested sign reproduces also the expression “plata o plomo” (literally “silver or lead”), with clear reference to the strategy of terror enforced by Escobar: whoever opposed him could choose whether to be corrupted or to die.

The motivation of the EUIPO Commission

The EUIPO confirmed that the average consumer of the European Union could perceive the requested sign as a reference to the criminal Pablo Escobar and, therefore, as an encouragement to criminality and drug trafficking.

The EUIPO recalled that Pablo Escobar had 30 judges and 457 police agents killed. Moreover, Pablo Escobar wrote one of the darkest pages of the history of Colombia, when he ordered the attack to the Avianca 203 flight that crashed on November 27, 1989 killing 110 people.

According to the EUIPO, the trademark filed by the applicant contradicts the universal values on which the European Union was founded, promotes and trivializes criminal activity and transmit a message of support to terrorism”.

Such sign could be perceived by the public as contrary to the principles of ethical behavior commonly accepted “as it transmits a shocking and offensive message, promotes drug trafficking and aims to gain financial profit from what is universally known as a tragic event”.

The attempt to obtain, through the filing of the trademark application, the possibility to commercially exploit the expression “Pablo Escobar – Plata o Plomo – Medellín” as indication of origin of daily goods was therefore considered unacceptable and offensive.

Consequently, the registration application of the trademark was rejected.


Ilaria Feriti