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03 October 2019

Trade Marks: Liverpool fail to emulate Spurs' success

Those of us sufficiently grey of hair and wrinkled of flesh may remember a decision made some 17 years ago that the trade mark TOTTENHAM could be registered for goods and services relating to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. That ruling by the UK Intellectual Property Office in the matter of application no. 2130740 was a pretty significant one for sports IP owners.

It was held that TOTTENHAM "is not the name of a locality that would naturally lend itself to being seen as an indicator of geographical origin". In layman's speak, Tottenham is not really famous for anything - other than perhaps for its football club. Accordingly, the club was allowed a trade mark covering everything from clothing to pennants to teddy bears. Other clubs have had some success subsequently. Chelsea FC for example has managed to secure trade marks for CHELSEA.

Hoping no doubt to tread in their Premier League rivals' old footsteps, Liverpool FC filed an application in June this year for a range of goods and services for the mark LIVERPOOL. It appears that the club's attempt was motivated by a desire to protect their brand and defend against "inauthentic products".

The IPO was not having it this time, finding that LIVERPOOL, in contrast to TOTTENHAM, certainly does have geographical significance. In other words, the city, Liverpool, is famous for things in a way that the locality of Tottenham, is not. And so, the club's application was rejected.

At the time of writing, the decision itself does not seem to be available publicly. Liverpool FC though, perhaps sensibly, have already said they will not challenge the decision.

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