On 14 July 2019, the Liverpool based drinks company Halewood International Brands applied to trade mark “VERA LYNN” for alcoholic beverages (the Application).
Upon being alerted to the Application via her lawyers, Dame Vera Lynn the singer known as “the force’s sweetheart” for her songs that were popular throughout the Second World War, lodged an opposition to the Application on 1 October 2019.
The opposition was based on s.5(4)(a) and s.3(6) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 (TMA). The former essentially provides that a trade mark shall not be registered where it might give rise to passing off. The latter provides that an application should not be registered to the extent it is made in bad faith.
The UKIPO has recently given its ruling in the subject case, upholding the objection to the Application and making an order for costs against Halewood.
The provisions on which Dame Lynn relied are of interest as they are slightly more unusual than the grounds used (being typically prior trade mark rights). They go to show that, even in the absence of an actual registered trade mark, celebrities or well-known public figures may be able to take an action against trade marks which seek to ride off their public renown without consent.
At Briffa, the team benefits from over 25 years’ experience filing trade marks in in nearly every jurisdiction in the world and we have particular expertise in handling trade mark disputes before the UK and EU courts.
Written by Tom Synott, Solicitor