EU court rules against La Mafia catering trademark

EU judges have failed to see the funny side of branding a chain of pizzerias as "The Mafia." They rejected an appeal by a Spanish company to keep trademark protection for its controversial marketing slogan.

The European Union's General Court in Luxembourg sided with a complaint by the Italian government, saying Thursday it was immoral to trade on the name of a "criminal organization" whose activities "breach the very values on which the EU is founded."

The ruling, which can be appealed to the European Court of Justice, said that the EU Intellectual Property Office was right to accept Italy's demand in 2015 to cancel a 10-year-old trademark held by La Mafia Franchises in Madrid. It runs a national chain offering pizzas, pasta and other Italian cuisine. It operates about 40 restaurants across Spain.

The General Court argued the company's logo conveyed a globally positive image of the Mafia by trivializing the serious harm it had done to fundamental EU values.

Alluding to 'The Godfather'

"That mark is therefore likely to shock or offend not only victims of the Mafia, but anybody with average sensitivity and tolerance thresholds," the court said in a statement.

Rejecting the company's arguments about alluding to "The Godfather" films, the judges said it was not right to grant legal protection to the slogan "La Mafia se sienta a la mesa" ("The Mafia is at the table"), because it promoted an organization known for extortion, corruption and murder.

The court's decision does not prevent the firm from using the slogan, but means it can't rely on trademark protection to stop others from using it without permission.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'Gomorrah'

The 2008 Italian film "Gomorrah" is based on the book by Roberto Saviano, which describes the clandestine business of a clan within the powerful Sicilian Camorra crime syndicate. Saviano has been under police protection because of death threats following the publication of his bestselling non-fiction investigative work in 2006.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'The Godfather'

Francis Ford Coppola was one of the first filmmakers to focus on the structures of organized crime with his 1972 hit feature film "The Godfather," a veritable mafia classic. Marlon Brando masterfully plays Don Vito Corleone, the head of a New York mafia family. Part II of the saga followed in 1974, part III in 1990.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'Goodfellas'

Martin Scorsese's 1990 mafia blockbuster starring Robert de Niro is a classic mob movie. Based on a true story, it's the film adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi's non-fiction book entitled "Wiseguy" that chronicles the life of a mafia mobster. Pileggi co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. "Goodfellas" is regarded as one of the greatest mafia films ever made.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'The Departed'

Martin Scorsese (center), himself the son of Italian immigrants, directed numerous mafia films over his career. "The Departed," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson as a Boston crime boss, won four Oscars. Two of the characters are loosely based on a real-life famous gangster and a corrupt FBI agent.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'Mean Streets'

Still a classic gangster film today, "Mean Streets" (1973) was Martin Scorsese's first mafia film, and the first time he worked with actor Robert De Niro. Set in New York City's Little Italy neighborhood — some of the greatest gangster films of all times take place in NY's gritty atmosphere — the film is about the daily struggles of a young Mafioso.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'Al Capone'

Al Capone was a Chicago crime boss notorious during the prohibition era. He was known for always wearing a fedora hat, a loud tie and never leaving the house without his bodyguards. The above photo is a rare picture of the mobster taken at a football game in Chicago in 1931. Richard Wilson directed the 1959 film starring Rod Steiger as Al Capone.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'The Untouchables'

In Brian de Palma's "The Untouchables" (1987), based on the book of the same name, a team of four officers brings down Al Capone. Sean Connery won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jimmy Malone, a Bureau of Prohibition officer fed up with corruption.

Great mafia movies — from 'The Godfather' to 'The Sopranos'

'The Sopranos'

"The Sopranos" (six seasons, 1999-2007 on HBO) is a superb TV series starring the late James Gandolfini as New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano. The show revolves around Tony's personal and business life, and the complex problems that land him in the office of a therapist. According to a US studio, a prequel to the hit mafia drama is being developed as a movie.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)

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