Austria says hello, but Germany says goodbye!


Could you imagine that somebody would patent the word ‘hello’ and you couldn’t sell T-Shirts with it?

This is currently happening in Austria with the words ‘griaß di’.

Griaß di is a greeting similar to hello or hi. It is used in parts of Bavaria are and also in Austria.

Now there were two shops who used to sell T-Shirts with this greeting printed on and yes, you’ve guessed it, one in Austria and one in Germany. Both have been selling these T-Shirts for many years, until …..


…. until the German decided to have ‘griaß di’ patented so that only he can sell those T-Shirts. He succeeded and  last month the Austrian shop owner was told to stop selling his T-Shirts. He had three days to get rid of the stock!

Philipp Reindl, the Austrian, didn’t sell many of those T-Shirts, but he wasn’t happy that a daily used Austrian greeting could be patented, and – even worse – by a German!

Peter Mayr, the German, on the other hand, has been selling these T-Shirts very successfully since 2004 and when he found out that there were more companies who used those words, they, too, received the message that they had to stop.

In the meantime, Phillip Reindl did some research to find out if something could be done. Then the Austrian TV channel ORF heard about it and made it public.

Since then, Austria is in uproar. How dare a  German tell them what they can sell and what not! The Tyrolian Chamber of Commerce is considering to finance a court case to have the patent revoked and there is even a Facebook group ‘save the griaß di’ 

How will this end, I wonder?

EDIT 2012: the patent has been revoked, see this German article Streit um “Griaß di”: Allgäuer Firma verliert Patent


8 thoughts on “Austria says hello, but Germany says goodbye!”

  1. In tears… We have plenty of trademarked words in English… Mint is one of them, Marble(S) is another. It’s stupidity. We also have the spat over the “keep calm and carry on” phrase *sigh*

  2. Memory is (r) for board games since ages for Ravensburger and Apple lost its case against Ravensburger for ‘Memory’ for ‘online’ which is also (r) since the 90’s . . . 

  3. …and then there was all the fuss about the “O” word here in the UK …. (ssshhhh – olympics…) I suspect this Germany/Austria row will be a very costly, nasty mess and the only true winners will be the respective lawyers, as usual…

    • True, the whole Olymics fuss is utter madness and the only winners will most likely be the lawyers, but (and don’t tell the Germans) I kind of hope the Austrians will take them to court …. and win 🙂

  4. It does seem completely bizarre that a word used in normal communication can be trademarked – I hadn’t thought about it much until now but there are all sorts of common English words that are probably trademarked e.g. ‘Start’ (a Kellogs cereal) and ‘Always’. The Austrian/German argument over ‘griaß di’ sounds like it will be an expensive and long-running one!

    • It isn’t the only greeting that’s been trademarked. Servus, ciao and hola have been, too, but at least only for products which have nothing to do with the greeting. (Servus is a German toilet paper, I don’t know about the other two.)
      But griaß di on the T-Shirt was meant to be the greeting, which in my mind, and that of the campaigners, makes it worse.


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