Use of Royal Symbols as Trade Marks
Love them or loathe them the British Royal Family are big business and companies associated with them can reap substantial rewards.
During this Platinum Jubilee year many businesses are likely to try to take advantage of the heightened awareness of the Queen and the various events being held in celebration of her long reign but, be warned, Royal symbols are protected by law. If you use signs which would misrepresent a connection to a Royal, or their endorsement, you may find yourself in hot water.
If you falsely indicate, either directly or indirectly, that your goods or services are supplied to, or approved of, by the Queen or any member of the Royal Family or if you use, without the relevant consent, any of the symbols which would signify the Queen’s Award to Industry you may be committing an offence under Trade Descriptions Act 1968.
Additionally, the Trade Mark Act 1994 (TMA94) prohibits use, without the relevant consent, of any Royal Arms (or deceptively similar arms), and any device, emblem or title in such a manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that the person or business is employed by, or supplies goods or services to, the Queen or that member of the Royal Family.
Objections to applications
Furthermore, an objection is likely to be raised by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) against a UK trade mark application for a mark which consists of, or contains, the Royal arms, any of the main armorial bearings of the Royal arms, or devices which may be mistaken for them, representations of the Royal crown or any of the Royal flags, representations of the Queen or any member of the Royal Family, or any words, letters or devices which is likely to lead consumers to believe that the applicant either has, or recently has had, Royal patronage or authorisation.
Such marks can only be registered as trade marks if consent has been given by, or on behalf of, the relevant member of the Royal Family. Since many of the Royal symbols are also protected under International law, applications to register similar marks in other countries may also faced objection.
Those whom the Queen considers members of the Royal Family, for the purpose of protecting their names, includes all of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and their spouses (yes, that includes the Sussexes) and also her cousins.
Consent for use
If you wish to obtain consent for use of a protected word or image you can apply to the Lord Chamberlain. If consent is given there will usually be terms and conditions for use and registration of the Royal symbol as a trade mark.
Even if you have been given a warrant denoting royal patronage, this does not constitute consent to use or register a Royal symbol as a trade mark.
Sometimes, if it is possible that the mark would suggest royal patronage, even marks which only allude to a Royal connection such as “royal” “queen”, “duke”, “prince”, etc., may face an objection from the IPO. The risk of objection is dependent upon the mark itself, the goods and services concerned and the likely perception of the average consumer.
For example, it is unlikely that the average consumer would look at plumbing supplies sold under the trade mark ‘Royal Flush’ and believe it to be connected to, or endorsed by, the Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but the trade mark ‘Royal Christmas Gala’ was refused registration by the IPO as there are a number of different events which are connected with the Royal Family and the inclusion of the word ‘Royal’ may misrepresent a connection to the Queen or the Royal Family.
Guidance concerning use of Royal symbols can be found on the website of the Lord Chamberlain at Use of Royal Arms, Names and Images | The Royal Family
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Emblem has its own guidelines which should be adhered to and these can be found at The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Emblem | The Royal Family
During this year of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, you may be tempted to adopt a trade mark which consists of, or contains, a protected Royal symbol but take care that using such a sign will not imply Royal patronage or endorsement, a connection to the Queen or to a member of the Royal Family as, without the correct permissions in place, you may suddenly find yourself in danger of being sent to the Tower.
If you have an questions about your trade mark or any of your IP, please contact us on email@example.com