Cats, noodles and a bit of bad luck
It is often said that cats have 9 lives however this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lucky. This was found to be the case by the owners of a new ramen bar which they decided to name ‘Lucky Cat’.
The reason for the bad luck was that Gordon Ramsay (you’ve probably heard of him, he’s big on social media and likes critiquing the efforts of other chefs) has a restaurant called ‘Lucky Cat By Gordon Ramsay’. And, as is perfectly sensible, he also owns a UK trade mark for LUCKY CAT covering, amongst other things, restaurant services in class 43.
It was this trade mark registration which caused the biggest problem for the new Lucky Cat restaurant and, following the launch of its crowdfunding program, Gordon Ramsay’s lawyers wrote to Lucky Cat asking that they change the name.
Fortunately the new restaurant owners found a clever fix, deciding to opt for ‘Maneki Ramen’ instead (it turns out Maneki-Neko means Lucky Cat in Japanese). They even went one step further, and as well as apologising to Mr Ramsay they decided to send him a voucher to use in their new restaurant as soon as it is open. A nice move, although I’m sure that has somewhat increased the pressure on opening night, hopefully Mr Ramsay will be more forgiving of the food than he was with brand name.
So, I hear you ask, how can we avoid having to rebrand our business just before launch? And what happens if the Japanese translation doesn’t really work with my pork pie business?
Well you’ll be pleased to hear that this issue can be easily avoided by conducting trade mark clearance searches in advance of settling on a brand name. These searches will look for identical or similar marks covering identical or similar goods/services and, if done by an IP solicitor (we know a few good ones), should be accompanied with a bit of advice on what the infringement risks are and the likelihood of getting your brand name through to registration.
As to a name for your pork pie brand, well that’s a different issue entirely, although it’s probably worth thinking twice about mentioning Melton Mowbray, unless of course that’s where your delicious pies come from. And anyway, there probably isn’t a Japanese translation for that one.
Written by Will Miles, Partner