Trade mark oppositions – advice for Harry & Meghan

Written by William Miles | January 28, 2020

Trade Marks

You may have noticed a passing mention on the news recently that Harry (AKA Prince Harry) and Meghan (AKA that actress from Suits) have recently resigned from royal duties in favour of a life of financial independence.

Like all sensible start-ups they have decided to register their brand SUSSEX ROYAL as a trade mark. However this has attracted a bit of attention and, with it, a few trade mark oppositions. So, what to do, well fortunately trade mark oppositions can usually resolved with a combination of the right legal advice and a careful approach.

Getting the right legal advice is easy, you’re already reading this blog and so you’ve found specialist IP lawyers in the form of Briffa. The careful approach is perhaps a bit more nuanced and is very fact specific. For example, you can identify and rely on earlier rights to overcome an opposition, essentially with the argument that you were there first. Or if you don’t have earlier rights you can identify differences between your trade mark application and the potential blocking mark. These differences can relate to either the marks themselves or the goods and services specified. Care should also be taken to properly analyse the blocking mark, for example, is it vulnerable to cancellation on the grounds of non-use (this should always be considered if the blocking mark is more than 5 years old) or is it perhaps invalidly registered, perhaps because it is too descriptive or lacking in distinctiveness (more common than you might think). Finally, if the block appears to be legitimate it’s worth thinking about how you might be able to peacefully co-exist. This is normally brought about by way of a co-existence agreement which essentially sets out the trading terms of both parties and ensures that they don’t bump into each other in the real world.

So, if you’ve just decided to hang up your crown to pursue independent business interests, or even if you’re not in line to the throne, why not contact Briffa before you to help you with all of your trade mark prosecution needs?

PS some useful definitions to help you through the process:

TM7A: A notice of threatened opposition, a form that it is normally filed by an opponent before they launch a full opposition.

TM7: A notice of opposition, the form filed by your opponent when they want to start the formal process.

TM8: Your defence to the opposition, ideally drafted with the benefit of legal advice.

Megxit: Harry and Meghan’s departure from the royal family, not to be confused with the UK’s departure from the EU, which is apparently unconnected.

Will Miles, Solicitor

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