Symbols and the Law

TitleSymbols and the Law
Publication TypeUnpublished
Authorsvan Woensel, C

This paper contains a summary of the PhD study of Caspar van Woensel, which translates as Brand, God and Ban: Improper use and monopolization of signs with a high symbolic value (2007). This study is concerned with the Dutch as well as, in part, the European legal framework surrounding the improper use and monopolization of signs with a high symbolic value, or: symbols. Central questions are: how does Dutch law look upon signs that many people regard as essential or 'sacred' in their personal lives or in society, and: does this law presently stand where it should? The book discerns between (i) national and international symbols, (ii) cultural and historical symbols, (iii) religious symbols. The study deals with two main groups of issues that to a large extent make up the relationship between symbols and the law: (1) questions surrounding the rules for their use, including legal responses to their improper use, and (2) questions with regard to their monopolization as trade marks. The book discusses civil law and self regulating authorities, criminal law, freedom of expression, and intellectual property law, mainly trade mark law, but also the law on designs and copyright law. A returning aspect in this discussion is a growing and maturing cultural diversity in the Netherlands and its implications for Dutch law, minority groups and society.