Advice re use of Royal nicknames in branding?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Jimnibob
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Advice re use of Royal nicknames in branding?

Post by Jimnibob » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:16 pm

Hi,

I am looking at possibly using the nickname of a long deceased British monarch for a product I am producing and wondered if anyone can advise on where I might stand with this legally. Would I be infringing any copyrights or need any specific consent to use the nickname.

For example, suppose I wanted to name a bottle of rum ‘King of the Seas’ after the 14th century King Edward III, who was indeed given this nickname for making the establishment of a new and improved English Navy.

Can anyone advise?

Thanks

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:28 pm

Hi Jimnibob,

Generally speaking names, even less so, nicknames, are not to subject to copyright. They are usually treated as 'facts'. So given that this is the nickname of a long dead king, I think you can forget about copyright.

However it is always worth checking to see if the word(s) you wish to use have been registered as a trade mark for something similar to the use you wish to make of the nickname. You can do this on the government's Intellectual Property Office website. For instance, the phrase you mention, King of the Seas is not registered, but the word 'Lionheart' has been registered for a number of classes of goods and services. If you do find that your words have been registered, the next thing to do is check if the goods or services for which the words have been registered are fundamentally the same as your proposed use. If they aren't, it may well be possible for you to use the same words for different goods etc, as long as doing so doesn't cause confusion in the minds of the buying public. That is why we can have a computer maker and a music publishing business both called Apple, although there is not business connection between the companies.Generally speaking names, even less so, nicknames, are not to subject to copyright. They are usually treated as 'facts'. So given that this is the nickname of a long dead king, I think you can forget about copyright.

However it is always worth checking to see if the word(s) you wish to use have been registered as a trade mark. You can do this on the government's Intellectual Property Office website. For instance, the words you mention, King of the Seas is not registered, but the word 'Lionheart' has been registered for a number of classes of goods and services. If you do find that your words have been registered, the next thing to do is check if the goods or services for the words have been registered are fundamentally the same as your proposed use. If they aren't, it may well be possible for you to use the same words for different goods etc, as long as doing so doesn't cause confusion in the minds of the buying public as to the true origin of the goods. That is why we can have a computer maker and a music publishing business both called Apple, although there is no business connection between the two companies.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

Jimnibob
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Post by Jimnibob » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:10 pm

Thanks Andy,

Would it make any difference by the fact that I intend to reference historical facts about the character the nickname relates to in order to tell the story behind the brand?

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Post by AndyJ » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:08 pm

Hi Jimnibob,

I assume you mean: would it make any difference if there was an existing registered trade mark for the nickname? No, I can't see that making any difference, because you would still be using the trade mark in the course of trade and this is likely to infringe the registered mark.

If you only used the nickname descriptively then that alone would not infringe the registered mark. So for instance I can advertise the sale of a Ford car without infringing any registered trade mark belonging to Ford because I would be using the word 'Ford' to describe the car, not to indicate that I was claiming to have made the vehicle, even though my advertisement would be in the course of trade.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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