Liverpool Football Club have failed to trade mark the word ‘Liverpool’ in the context of football products and services as it has been rejected by the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Liverpool FC had attempted to register ‘Liverpool’ as a trade mark in attempt to stop individuals from benefiting from the sale of counterfeit merchandising and products.
So why was it rejected?
Trade marks which designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin, time of production or other characteristics of the goods or services will generally not be registered as trade marks.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) rejected the request by Liverpool FC given the “geographical significance” of the city Liverpool, in comparison to place names that have been trade marked by other football clubs in the UK. For instance, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have successfully managed to trade mark their names in the past.
The UKIPO ruled that the “geographical significance” of Liverpool as a city means that the club cannot lay sole claim to the name ‘Liverpool’. Liverpool FC will not be appealing against this decision.
Ultimately, there is a reason for why place names usually remain free to use, as businesses should be free to use the geographical place that tells consumers about the products/services they sell. In the UK and EU, the Courts generally do not allow geographical names to be registered as trade marks particularly where they designate specified geographical locations which are already famous or where they are already well-known for the category of goods or services in question. In this case, ‘Liverpool’ should be allowed to be used freely without fear of legal implications.
Briffa has been successfully filing trade mark applications for over 25 years in both the UK, EU and across the world. If you are unsure whether your trade mark application will succeed or want some expert advice before filing a trade mark application, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary call or meeting at our offices.
Written by Noyemie Sahakian, Solicitor