Easy as ABC for Google … or is it?

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Web giant Google has recently announced a restructure of its business which will see it create a parent company under the name Alphabet Inc, a move which appears to have put German car manufacturers BMW on alert.

BMW is the owner of the registered trademark ‘alphabet’, which incidentally is also the name of one of its subsidiary companies and Google’s move has lead BMW to take steps to examine whether there are any implications over trade marks.

Whilst a legal dispute appears unlikely due to Google’s intentions not to build a brand or products using ‘Alphabet’, it highlights the importance of being aware of what prior rights third parties may have prior to commencing trading under a particular brand.

Despite having some registered rights, BMW does not have the monopoly over the word ‘alphabet’ and can only assert its rights within the classes of goods and services, which it has registered that trade mark within of which there are 45 to choose from in total. Selecting the correct classes and indeed framing the wording of your application within that class so that your registration corresponds accurately with your business (or intended business) is important to ensure that you are able to assert your rights with greater strength when another party begins to trade under that same name.

Having registered rights over a trade mark, rather than relying on automatic unregistered rights, can also make it easier and cheaper to enforce those rights and prevent a third party’s use.

For advice and assistance on protecting and exploiting trade marks or other intellectual property rights valuable to your business, please contact John Pickervance in the Corporate and Restructuring Department by telephone on 0800 689 3206 or via our Contact Form.

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