German anti-Nazi group launches trademarks campaign to end codes

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According to Hamburg-based non-profit “Laut Gegen Nazis” (Noise Against Nazis), in Germany, a number of online stores sell Nazi themed merchandise, often using well-known right-wing codes.

Not only do the store owners profit from this, but the right-wing extremist scene also finances itself in this way.

Anti-Nazi trademarks campaign

Laut Gegen Nazis is aiming to put an end to this with a new campaign “Rights Against the Right,” created via agency Jung von Matt Berlin.

The idea is to trademark the codes used on this merch so that it can’t be traded anymore.

Following an initial launch in October 2023, the initiative has now achieved its next big milestone: securing the trademark rights for the bestselling code “Enness” (phonetic spelling for ‘NS’ or ‘National Socialism’) from the European Trademark Office.

“If you search for the best-selling products on the websites of Nazi online stores, you will come across T-Shirts and sweaters with the word ‘Enness’ on them,” said Jörn Menge, chairman of Laut gegen Nazis.

“Shops will soon have to remove the offending goods with ‘Enness’ codes printed on them from the internet or destroy them; otherwise, they will face legal proceedings and fines, and even imprisonment if unpaid.

“With trademark law, we have discovered a way to combat the codes. We still need to be patient with the trademark offices. We are therefore delighted that the written warning letters are now on their way to the Nazi stores.

“This will once again prevent right-wing extremists from legally glorifying the crimes of National Socialism and financing themselves through merchandise sales. “

Menge added that the campaign can only continue so successfully thanks to the numerous private donations on a specially set up donation page.

Neo-Nazi dropout Philip Schlaffer supports campaign

Since leaving the far-right scene, Philip Schlaffer has worked as an anti-violence and deradicalisation trainer, educating people about the danger of right-wing extremism.

During his time as an active member of the German Neo-Nazi scene, he himself operated a successful online store. Schlaffer knows from his own experience how important the codes are for the right-wing extremist scene in Germany.

“I developed Nazi codes myself and know how important they are – printed on shirts and merch – for the scene. Not only as a means of identification but also to finance the groups,” Schlaffer said.

“By securing the trademark rights for ‘Enness’, the Laut Gegen Nazis association has now pulled off a new coup. The code is a bestseller in numerous stores that I also remember from my Nazi days.”

The association and the campaign are not only supported by those who have left the scene. With a follow up project called “Fashion against Fascism”, fashion giants such as Zalando, AboutYou and the Spread Group also joined forces in April 2024 and took a clear stance against right wing extremists.

The result is the largest online database against Nazi codes. It is intended to help companies ensure and check that right-wing codes are not unknowingly distributed via their stores.