Monaco cannot register its own name as a trademark because the principality is too well known on account of its royal family and Formula One race, an EU court ruled Thursday.

In 2010, Monaco, the world’s second smallest independent state, was allowed to trademark its name by the World Intellectual Property Organization, a UN body.

But the 28-member European Union itself then refused to allow Monaco to do so on the grounds that the word referred to the country, a playground for the rich and famous.

The General Court of the European Union upheld that decision, saying that people would automatically think of the country when they saw or heard it.

“The word ‘monaco’ corresponds to the name of a globally-known principality, not least due to the renown of its royal family, its organisation of a Formula OneGrand Prix and its organisation of a circus festival,” the court said.

“There is therefore no doubt that the word ‘monaco’ will evoke, regardless of the linguistic background of the relevant public, the geographic territory of the same name.”

Monaco recently celebrated the birth of twins to Prince Albert II and his wife Charlene. Albert was the product of a fairytale marriage between Prince Rainier and the US movie star Grace Kelly.

Monaco consists of less than two square kilometres (0.75 square miles) of rocky territory carved out of France’s Mediterranean coast, making it the second smallest state in the world after the Vatican.

In 1861 it was recognised as an independent state under a treaty with France, with which it has been closely associated ever since. – Agence France-Presse

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