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Sekhem – European Union Trademarking
page is for the attention of people working with Sekhem in the European Union
and was posted in November 2006 with an update in February 2008. This website
also has pages
relating to the trademarking of Sekhem in
Background to the Guidance
need for this notice lies in the successful application by Helen Belôt to
trademark the name SEKHEM within the European Union. Helen Belôt is the
Australian Energy Master who works with the Sekhem energy. There appears to
be some confusion here in the
I completed my training with Helen Belôt in her combined Seichim / Sekhem / Reiki system in September 1999. Shortly after I completed that training, an incident happened. As a result, I decided that I did not wish to continue to be a member of the Sekhem Association and did not renew my annual membership when it fell due. This meant that subsequently I was not eligible to receive any official updates on developments within the official Sekhem Association.
2001 / 02, I wrote my own training manual for what I had been taught by
Helen. When I was writing it, I tried to research how other people were
working with Sekhem through internet search and found two separate sets of
references to legal actions relating to Seichim and Sekhem. The first had
taken place in
the time, I felt it was likely that application to trademark would be made in
kept browsing the
The EU Trademark Authorisation Procedure
Essentially, there are two sets of procedures which are followed within OHIM once an application to trademark is received. The first is to publish details of applications to trademark, to receive applications of opposition to trademark applications following publication, and to go through due legal process to hear the oppositions to trademark in a special trademarking Court. The second is for OHIM itself to review the market place for existing common use of what is to be trademarked and to identify whether there are other people and organisations using the same or very similar logos and slogans and names to those which are the subject of trademarking applications. My application to oppose the application to trademark included material and arguments that were intended to feed into both procedural routes.
EU Procedure – Application to Oppose
to oppose the trademarking application can only be made on the basis of a
prior right to use the name to be trademarked. The EU law here is based upon
- I argued that I had a right to use the word Sekhem prior to the date of application to trademark. The EU did not accept this and ruled that Helen Belôt had a prior right over the word. Prior right was determined to be based upon the earliest date of use or of ownership of the word, not the date of application to trademark.
- I argued that I had a contractual right to use the work Sekhem which had already been given to me by Helen Belôt prior to the date of application to trademark and that this would be affected by any approval of the trademarking. The Court determined that approval to trademark would be given on the basis of evidence of earliest date of use or of ownership of the word and that any contractual rights given after the earliest date would not influence the approval of the application to trademark. The Court advised that if I had a contractual right to use the word that pre-dated any trademarking approval, the remedy for any attempt by the trademark holder to restrict my use of the word would be to seek determination of my right to use the name at an English Court under English contract law.
- I submitted correspondence from a number of other people using the word Sekhem in the European Union. The Court was not able to accept this evidence for the application to oppose procedural route because these people had not given me power of attorney to represent them.
- Nobody else within the European Union submitted an opposition to the trademarking.
EU Procedure – OHIM Review of the Market Place for existing common use
- I presented evidence of the spiritual nature of the word Sekhem and argued that it was not appropriate for such a word to be trademarked. There was no basis in EU Law to consider this argument so it was rejected.
- I presented evidence of over two hundred examples where the word Sekhem was being used in the public domain. There were examples from nearly every country within the EU. One of the tests that OHIM makes to assess whether there is already existing common use of something to be trademarked is to find at least two hundred examples of the common usage. The evidence that I provided included the spelling of the word Sekhem in a number of different combinations of upper and lower case letters such as SEKHEM, Sekhem and sekhem. The Court advised that because application to trademark was for the word written in upper case letters only as SEKHEM, there was no application to trademark the word in other combinations of upper and lower case letters. Therefore, as the majority of examples of the use of the word that I provided were not all in upper case, I was not able to provide sufficient examples of common use of the word to lead to a rejection of the application to trademark. Additionally, when I applied to oppose the trademarking of the word in any combination of upper and lower case letters under the opposition procedural route, the Court would only allow my application in respect of the upper case version, SEKHEM.
- One of the bases in law for determining whether a word is suitable for approval to be trademarked is its distinctiveness which separates it and makes it immediately recognisable from any words in common usage. I presented the EU with a lot of evidence showing the use of the word Sekhem in various contexts and argued that the act of writing it in upper case letters did not give sufficient distinctiveness to justify approval to trademark. The Court did not accept this argument.
- There is a legal concept in trademarking law called ‘passing off’. This means using very similar names or logos for products and services for which there is already a registed trademark. For example, we are all familiar with the trademarked Coca-Cola logo. If another cola manufacturer chose to bottle the drink in similarly shaped bottles and with a similarly designed logo but just changing the name slightly to Coca-Kola, in law this would be seen as an attempt to copy the Coca-Cola product and to ‘pass it off’ as the Coca-Cola product. I made representation to the Court that even though I might not have found two hundred examples of the word Sekhem spelled in upper case letters, I had found sufficient examples of the word for one of the product classes for which approval to trademark was being sought, namely the category which included health care services, for there to be the potential of a legal quagmire in terms of the ‘passing off’ concept in respect of existing users of the name if Helen Belot’s application to trademark were approved. The Court seemed not to pick up this point and not to take it into account in their decision to approve the trademarking.
- I advised that should there be a change to what was to be trademarked so that there would be sufficient differentiation between the common uses of the word Sekhem and what was intended to be trademarked, I would withdraw my opposition. I suggested that a suitable option might be to register the trademark as Helen Belot SEKHEM. This suggestion was not accepted by the trademark holder.
What has been trademarked
Helen Belôt made
application for the word SEKHEM in upper case letters to be given trademark
status in certain product categories and the EU has now given approval for
the following categories. These are internationally recognised classes for
the purposes of trademarking under the
- Class 03: Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions; dentifrices.
- Class 33: Alcoholic beverages (except beers).
- Class 42: Health care services inclusive of medical clinics, naturopaths; massage; medical assistance; pharmacy advice; physiotherapy; rest homes; sanitoriums.
Although I had originally believed that the Sekhem logo had not been trademarked, I was incorrect about this. In September 2007 I became aware that the logo had been trademarked under EU trademark reference #E002006773 (click here to search for #E002006773).
What has not been trademarked
As far as I am aware, approval to trademark has not been granted for the following:
- Any use of the word Sekhem written in upper case letters as SEKHEM for product categories other than Classes 03, 33 and 42.
- Any use of the word Sekhem written in any combination of upper and lower case letters other than in upper case as SEKHEM for goods and services within Classes 03, 33 and 42.
- Any use of the word Sekhem written in any combination of upper and lower case letters for product categories other than Classes 03, 33 and 42.
I have written to OHIM three times to request confirmation that my understanding of the above is correct but have received no response. I have posted to this website, therefore, transcripts of correspondence between myself and OHIM on this matter. The transcripts are on a different page which also includes reproduction of relevant correspondence from the time of the opposition proceedings. Please click here to read them.
Territorial Jurisdiction of the EU trademarking approval
In general, the EU does not have legislative jurisdiction over what are recognised as the Overseas Countries and Territories.
gives details of the OCTs. If you live in one of these territories please
check to see whether the EU trademarking approval for SEKHEM applies to where
you live. As far as I am aware, close to home here in the
The trademarking approval extends to countries which joined the EU after the date of the approval and which will join the EU in the future. If the EU approved trademark is already trademarked in a country joining the EU, the local trademark owner may apply to a local Court to retain ownership of the trademark in the territory of the joining country. Details of all of this can be found on OHIM website at http://oami.europa.eu/ .
Term of the trademarking approval
The trademarking approval was granted for a five year period up to December 2010. Under European Union law, application to renew the trademarking approval at the end of the five year period may be made if the trademark owner can show continued usage of the trademark during the current term of trademarking approval. Application to renew the trademarking approval was made and the renewal of the trademarking approval was granted.
When I was training with Helen, I sought clarification from her that we had an agreement for myself and all my students and their students down through my teaching line in perpetuity to teach her system and to use her teaching materials and logo. This she confirmed. This means that a contract to that effect exists in English law. There were no conditions attached. Although I do not usually write Sekhem in upper case letters anyway, should there ever be any difficulty between Helen and myself or between Helen and anybody within my teaching line, it would be best if the matter went to Court for determination. As far as I am aware at this stage, anybody in my teaching line is eligible to use the word Sekhem written in whatever way they wish and in whatever product categories they wish.
The position of other Sekhem healers in the
A trademark owner has the legal right to control the use of the trademark. If permission to use what has been trademarked was given at a date prior to the date of trademarking approval and for which money changed hands, there could be a contractual right to use the trademarked word which pre-dates the trademarking approval. The following gives an indication of some of the issues that would need to be considered in coming to a view about the existence of pre-dated contractual rights in respect of SEKHEM.
If you have a SEKHEM practitioner or Master or Master Teacher certificate, it would be necessary to understand what contractual right was given to use the word SEKHEM by Helen Belôt to the person at the top of your lineage tree immediately below her. It would also be necessary to understand the contractual rights passed down the lineage tree from teacher to student. If Helen gave permission for the word SEKHEM to be used without restriction and this has been passed down the lineage tree without amendment, there could be a contractual right all the way down through your part of the lineage to use the word SEKHEM without restriction. If somebody part way down the lineage tree has not followed restrictions imposed by Helen at the top of the tree, he or she might have been creating terms and conditions in a contract which he / she had no right to create. In such a situation, the law regarding misrepresentation might be relevant. In simple conceptual terms, this would be likely to require some recompense from the person who had misrepresented to the person who had paid for the training.
In the situation where no written contracts were created at the time of training in SEKHEM, a Court would consider the following in the event of dispute. In English law, verbal statements and agreements regarding specific (or express) terms and conditions at the time of agreeing a contract are accepted as evidence of contract. If there are no witnesses to any verbal statements and agreements, these can be difficult to prove in Court. In the event of difficulty here, a Court would seek to construe what was intended contractually when money changed hands. In other words, the Court would seek to draw up what the contract was intended to be and then make judgement about the dispute accordingly. Additionally, a Court would be likely to make determination on implied terms and conditions in a contract. Implied terms and conditions are those which are not expressed specifically but can reasonably be assumed to apply. In the case of SEKHEM, it could reasonably be assumed that the granting of a certificate without any restrictions saying that somebody is certified as a Master Teacher in SEKHEM implies that the person had been given approval to practice and to teach SEKHEM. In the case of SEKHEM, custom and practice in the energy healing sector where attunements and teaching pass down a lineage might be considered to imply that the issuing of a SEKHEM Master or Master Teacher certificate without restrictions represents approval given to practice and to teach SEKHEM successively from teacher to student down through the lineage tree.
If you are teaching SEKHEM, it would be advisable to work your way up through your lineage tree back to Helen to understand what contractual arrangements were made with each teacher regarding the use of the word SEKHEM together with any restrictions imposed. If for any reason it would appear that you do not have a contractual right to use the word, the trademark owner has the right in law to ask you to refrain from using the word. Additionally, you could then also have difficulties with any person that you have trained because you would not have had the legal right to use the word SEKHEM. This could have financial consequences for you.
One of the difficulties of the trademarking situation is that the application to trademark took place after SEKHEM teachers had already been trained. I would expect that Helen would have taken legal advice on the issues affecting such teachers and should be able to advise on their positions so that all sides can operate within the law in case they are not able to come to mutual agreement on the way forward. It would be advisable, therefore, to contact Helen direct to discuss your position. In law, Helen would be within her rights to require that any contractual restrictions should be followed but would not be able to require any additional restrictions outside of what already exists in contract.
If you are one of the people who has been telling other people that they cannot use the word SEKHEM, you need to ensure that you know what contractual rights have been passed down any branches of the lineage tree to the person who you are communicating with. You also need to be mindful of exactly what has been trademarked. It is not correct to tell people that the word in any combination of upper and lower case letters unless written as SEKHEM is trademarked. It is not correct to tell people that the logo has been trademarked. You also need to be acting upon the authority of the trademark owner.
The position of other Sekhem healers elsewhere in the EU
would be advisable for other Sekhem healers elsewhere to check with their
local national legislation in case your national laws have any similarity to
what I have outlined above for
Right of appeal against the trademarking
If something has been trademarked which somebody had a right to prior to the trademark owner, it is possible to follow an appeal procedure which will result in a revocation of the trademarking approval by the EU trademarking Court. If anybody believes that they have a prior right to use the word SEKHEM as has been trademarked, they should contact OHIM.
Future trademarking of Sekhem
Whilst I cannot prejudge any decision making by the EU Court, I think it unlikely that other versions of writing the word such as sekhem and Sekhem could be trademarked in the future within the EU as they are in common usage all around the EU.
Future actions by myself
anything unforeseable happens, I do not think that
there will be any future action on this matter by myself. If anybody needs to
discuss this matter with me, please feel free to contact me. Alternatively, people in the
Originally posted 24th November 2006.
Updated 22nd February 2008.