I have received two responses to last week’s blog which concerned the Intellectual Property Office approving Specsavers appropriation of ‘should’ve’ as part of its trade mark. I objected, of course, as I believe that our common language is just that: common to us all and is not for sale.
The first was from the IPO itself and parts of it are worth quoting:
“I have considered your observation but it does not tell me anything that was not known when the application was accepted, nor does it establish that the application was accepted in error. Trade marks are an Intellectual Property designed to protect a brand. Words are often registered as a trade mark in order to show that the goods or services being provided emanate from a single source of origin. However, the case has received notices of threatened opposition which may or may not lead to a formal opposition. This is a judicial process and as such I cannot pre-empt or comment on the outcome of this application. If you intend on filing a formal opposition, you must do so before the end of the opposition period. Details of the opposition process may be found here”
Translated, I believe this says that the IPO will do whatever companies want, and it is paid to do, and if you don’t like it, please sue them and not us.
I think this is both piffle and lazy communication. Surely intellectual property is something more than words we all use?
I am extremely keen on clear, coherent communication and, in particular, its content. One essential aspect is, I believe, that everything that is said, written, broadcast or streamed is reasonable, based on common sense and best judged by the man on the Clapham Omnibus.
Who he? He is, says Wikipedia, “…a hypothetical ordinary and reasonable person, used by the courts in English law where it is necessary to decide whether a party has acted as a reasonable person would. The man on the Clapham omnibus is a reasonably educated and intelligent but nondescript person, against whom the defendant’s conduct can be measured.”
I am of the opinion that the IPO and Specsavers, who may well be within the letter of the law, are so far removed from anything that could be considered to be either reasonable or sensible that they might as well be in a different galaxy.
Far, far better is the other response I received, from an editor called Alison Harmer, who sent me a link to Groucho Marx’s response to Warner Brothers in an earlier trade mark dispute which concerned the use of the word ‘Casablanca’.
It’s clear, reasonable, hilarious, rammed with common sense and will make folk on the bus laugh out loud!