European Champions seek to register “LIVERPOOL” as a Trade Mark in the UK
Liverpool Football Club ("the Club") has filed two applications with the Intellectual Property Office ("IPO") to register the word mark "LIVERPOOL" as a trade mark in the UK. The first application, which covers goods in classes 9, 16 and 25 (broadly, software, clothing and games) has been published. This means that the application has been accepted by the IPO and is now open for opposition from third parties for a minimum period of two months. The second application, which is broader in scope and covers various goods and services in classes 16, 35, 38, 41 and 43, is (at the time of writing) under examination. If the IPO determines that the mark the subject of the second application satisfies the criteria to be registered as a trade mark then it too will be published for opposition purposes.
The applications have met criticism; the concern being that, should they be successful, it will force local businesses that utilise the name of the city to cease such use or agree a licence fee with the Club.
Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool, tweeted: "I have informed LFC that I and LCC will oppose their attempt to Trade Mark the name Liverpool. I do not believe you can Trade Mark a City name. I value our relationship with LFC and we will work to help remove counterfeit goods, but we will also protect local traders and our brand."
The Club has stressed that they are only seeking protection in relation goods and services relating to the sport of football (and indeed the specifications for the marks have been limited in this way). Peter Moore, the Club's CEO has sought to quell any animosity against the Club by stating: "We are trying to protect LFC against large-scale counterfeiting operations and are not in any way targeting small businesses and clubs." Nevertheless, if the marks are granted it will provide the Club with broad protection in respect of the city name.
Such a move is not unusual. A quick check of the UK trade mark register shows that Premier League teams Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Watford and Southampton have all successfully registered trade marks in respect of the word associated with both the club and its location. It will be interesting to see how the IPO responds to the opposition over the coming months.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.