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Ceturtdiena 09.04.2020 | Name days: Valērija, Žubīte

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU and opposition Conservatives feud over forget-me-not flower

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 Lithuania Forget-me-not Conservative patent Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Forget-me-not, a symbol of eternal love and remembrance and the flower believed to have played a role in God‘s creating the earth, has been the target of feud between the opposition Conservatives (officially, the Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) and the ruling party,  Lithuania’s Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU).

The symbol was trademarked

The flower, known for its five blue petals, ended up in focus after the symbol this year was profusely used in the events commemorating the victims of the January 13, 1991 massacre, when in the aftermath of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania the Soviet troops killed 14 civilians defending the Lithuanian Television Tower.

The revelation that the symbol of the flower has been trademarked, i.e. became intellectual property of one of a Conservative MP who registered the symbol, just poured gas on the fire.

«I was stunned to learn that Conservative Monika Navickienė made from the forget-me-not a trademark symbol for the party she represents. This is very unfair,» Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling LFGU posted on Facebook.

Double standards?

After the State Patent Bureau (SPB) in charge of issuance of new trademarks rejected previously Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ request to trademark the name «For the Fatherland», Karbauskis suspected double standards applied by the patent bureau. «The bureau officials refused to register the name, claiming that it has a big symbolic value. However, this was not applied to the Conservatives’ similar request regarding the forget-me-not flower,» regretted Karbauskis.

«I’ve been observing for the last couple of years how the Conservatives are luring everyone to participate in January 13 commemoration events using the flower’s symbol. I really cannot understand why they are not using for that our other historically well-distinguished symbols like, for the example, Vytis, the coat of arms of Lithuania, consisting of an armour-clad knight on horseback holding a sword and shield? Our tri-colour flag? Or, say, the Columns of Gediminas or the Pillars of Gediminas that are one of the earliest symbols of Lithuania?» the LFGU leader asked rhetorically.

«I am really flabbergasted that the forget-me-not flower was trademarked by Conservative MP Monika Navickienė back in 2015 and, now, is effectively owned by her. This is preposterous and very unfair. I can just make my guesses why the Conservative did not admit the fact until now. Perhaps she along with her fellow party members had apprehensions that not everybody, especially students and children, will want to associate themselves with the symbol of Conservatives?»

Where the money goes?

«Frankly, I feel cheated and betrayed by the State Patent Bureau that is clearly applying double standards when it comes to registering or not a trademark. I believe that, with the indignation in the public, Navickienė should renounce her rights for the trademark,» Karbauskis said. «When the badges and the T-shirts bearing the symbol started going on sale and were given free for schoolchildren and kindergartners, the line was crossed. The money they collect from the sales fills the Conservatives’ coffers, which is the explanation why the Conservatives are pushing the items with the flower’s symbol,» the LFGU chairman reasoned.

According to him, wearing such badges and T-shirts equals to expressing «full support» for the Conservatives and their policies. «We certainly cannot forbid it, but, looking forward, we all, including President Gitanas Nausėda, have to understand this clearly,» Karbauskis concluded.

Ownership rights handed over?

Defending herself, Navickienė argued that the forget-me-not bloom has nothing to do with the Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats. She claims she has handed over ownership rights for the symbol to public association «Neužmiršk» (Do not forget), established to commemorate Lithuania’s January 13 tragedy.

For the seventh consecutive time, «Neužmiršk» organised this year a commemorative event to remind heroism of the fallen January 13 heroes. Association sold badges containing the forget-me-not flower in kiosks across the country and the money from the sales were to go for the National Defence Volunteer Forces, «Neužmiršk» said.

Britons have their own flower symbols

«In 2014, I came up with the idea of having a symbol that would remind us what happened during January 13. The similar idea is implemented in Great Britain, where the symbol containing image of the poppy is profusely used to mark heroism of an English woman, who raised funds during World War I for widows, orphans, veterans and different charities.

The modern Remembrance Poppy has been trademarked by veteran’s associations in many jurisdictions, particularly in the Britain and the Commonwealth nations.

«From the very beginning, the idea we came up with had nothing to do with political affiliation. It could not be otherwise, as the idea was widely accepted by various societal organisations and the public,» said Navickienė.

Two different things?

Referring to the State Patent Bureau’s decision to refuse to register PM Skvernelis’ trademark name «For the Fatherland», the Conservative MP said that it was «understandable», as it originated from Skvernelis’ plans to establish under the name his new political party. «We here have to completely different things…Unfortunately, Karbauskis tends to mix size of shoes with size of lemons, but this is his personal problem,» the parliamentarian quipped speaking to Lithuanian media.

Old traditions are being pushed out?

However, many analysts disapprove appearance of new symbols, like that of the forget-me-not. «Any symbol is reference to a certain tradition, as well as our identity. The symbols we have show what tradition we are associating ourselves with…We do have many well-recognised symbols, like Vytis, the columns of Gediminas, so appearance of new symbols means to me that the older traditions we have are becoming less important in our lives and we are not association with them any more…To me, the popularising of the forget-me-not symbol is just thing of the kind – we are pushing into oblivion the tradition which has played an essential role during January 13 and we are creating new traditions, which are erasing the memory,» Vygantas Malinauskas, chairman of Lithuanian Catholic federation «Ateitis», told BNN.

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