Royal watchers, and many others who are exposed to noisy news, will know that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have announced on Instagram that they “intend to step back as “senior” members of the Royal Family”. According to their statement, they aim to “work to become financially independent”. They will do so while pursuing their plan to “balance (their) time between the United Kingdom and North America”.
On 21 June 2019, one day after they officially resigned from the Royal Foundation, Harry and Meghan filed for the Sussex Royal trademark in the UK. This application was advertised on 20 December 2019. According to the application, the Sussex Royal trademark will possibly be used for a wide range of services, including public awareness campaigns, education, charity, and social care. It also may be used for a wide range of products, including books, magazines and other publications, and clothing.
This shows that this royal couple is very aware of the commercial value of a brand and the need to protect it. And with good reason, as their brand is likely to make a lot of money.
However, if they do in fact want to “balance their time between the United Kingdom and North America”, they must take care to ensure that their brand and potential income flowing from their brand are protected in both territories.
While reports indicate that the royal pair have been taking various steps to protect their trademark beyond the United Kingdom, there have already been reported issues and complexities. These include a possible hurdle in Europe from an Italian who has filed Sussex Royal for goods not covered by their applications and there is also at least one challenge in America. On 8 January 2020, Jared Fogelson, a Californian lawyer, applied for Sussex Royal in America, for “communications by computer terminals; transmission and delivery of video, and data via the internet and wireless networks”, ie essentially covering digital platforms.
According to an article published on the dailymail.co.uk, Jared did so “to teach the couple a lesson about planning”. He said that he wanted “to give them a lesson about paying attention to details and avoiding a potentially massive oversight”. Presumably, any possible marketing exposure did not influence his decision to file.
Given the noisy news’ interest in this couple, there is going to be a lot more to read about these and other issues. However, leaving aside the details of Harry and Meghan’s international trademark protection program and what steps they can take to address any would-be challenges to their royal treasure, the Californian lawyer has, for purposes of this note anyway, highlighted the need to “plan properly” and “pay attention to details and avoid a potentially massive oversight” when protecting trademarks.
At the start of the new year, it is prescient to ensure that each company’s trademarks are properly protected. This includes taking the following steps:
- Checking that all marks, logos, and slogans currently being used are registered as trademarks
- Ensuring that these are registered in all countries where the company is doing business or has immediate plans to do business
- Making sure comprehensive availability searches are conducted for any new mark, logo or slogan – before adopting these marks, logos or slogans
- Checking that any trademarks which are due for renewal are renewed (trademarks must be renewed every ten years)
- Making sure that the trademarks are owned by the correct company and, for example, have not been left behind when businesses are transferred
- Making sure that any use of a trademark by a third party is properly controlled with a license agreement.
Proper planning, paying attention to the details and attending to these steps in good time, will ensure that each company’s trademark treasure remains strong and valuable, and able to fend off any pretenders to the company’s throne.
17 January 2020