‘Canary Wharf’ Trade Mark Application Remains in the Dock

The owner of the Canary Wharf development in London has lost an appeal to register “Canary Wharf” as a trade mark for a range of goods and services.

The public company applied in March 2013 to obtain protection for a number of goods and services including its car parking and construction activities.

Where a trade mark consists exclusively of a sign which may serve in trade to designate the geographical origin of goods or services, then an application may be automatically refused.  In light of this, Canary Wharf argued that the name was of a private development, which was under its control and management – and was not a geographical place name or area.  However, evidence showed that the term had been used to describe the area since the 1930s when shipping imports were received from the Canary Islands, before more recent usage focused on the financial zone.

The appeal Court also rejected the applicant’s argument that there was no public interest in keeping the “Canary Wharf” mark free to use, as it was the sole owner of the area and nobody else could provide the services on the land without permission.  The Court felt, however, that the protection sought would serve only Canary Wharf’s private interest – and would not be in the public interest.

The Court also commented that the “Canary Wharf” sign had not acquired distinctiveness and, in relation to a book, the sign would be seen as merely descriptive of the subject matter of the printed material – which is also a bar to trade mark registration.

If you require assistance in identifying and protecting your company’s intellectual property, speak to John Pickervance, a solicitor specialising in commercial law and intellectual property, on 0800 689 0831 or via our Contact Form.

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