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Place Names Must Be Available to All

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

The UK Intellectual Property Office has refused an application by Chanel to register the word ‘Jersey’ as a trade mark on the ground that, as a geographical term, it would not be appropriate to deny its availability to other businesses seeking to use the word.

The application was opposed by the Minister for Economic Development of Jersey, who produced in evidence several samples of products marked ‘Jersey’ in order to demonstrate the use of the word in showing their place of origin.

The Registrar of Trade Marks concluded that Jersey ‘is a geographical name which is liable to be used by undertakings as an indication of the geographical origin of the category of goods and which must, in the public interest, remain available to those undertakings to indicate the geographical origin of their goods’.

 Accordingly, the name could not be given the protection of exclusive use Chanel sought.

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