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IPO waves through “should’ve” trade mark application

17 August 2016

In a trade mark application that will raise a few bespectacled eyebrows, Specsavers has successfully managed get its application to register “should’ve” (as in, “should’ve gone to Specsavers”) past the examination stage at the UK’s Intellectual Property Office.

In a trade mark application that will raise a few bespectacled eyebrows, Specsavers has successfully managed get its application to register “should’ve” (as in, “should’ve gone to Specsavers”) past the examination stage at the UK’s Intellectual Property Office.

While it has not yet actually obtained a registration for the word (and at the time of writing, someone has already threatened to oppose the mark’s progression to registration) it is somewhat surprising that the UK IPO considered that the word was sufficiently distinctive to warrant the monopoly rights of a trade mark.

What is particularly remarkable is the breadth of goods and services for which the mark is being registered. Carlsberg successfully registered “probably” for beer and various related goods and services - however Specsavers is looking to register “should’ve” for a much wider range of goods and services, including for example, paper, notebooks, and ear protectors.

While it is difficult to draw too wide a conclusion from the fact the IPO has waved through a mark that on the face of it is just a verb (and a particularly non-distinctive verb at that), brands would be well advised to consider whether there are any particular words that they use regularly in advertising that are particularly associated with them. The ability to secure a trade mark for words that have become associated with particular brands gives them a powerful tool in preventing competitors from undermining their brand or trading off their investment.

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