Wednesday, 4 February 2009

"Juice" distinctive for energy? Pull the other one!

The Evening Standard reports that npower, the energy company, is threatening legal action against Westminster Council over its use of the word "juice", for top-up points for electric cars.

npower seem to have several registrations for "juice" trade marks, for various goods and services, and often with added matter. The story says that it is "npower juice" that they allege has been infringed - and they have it registered, in stylised form, in no fewer than 14 classes (which looks rather like attempted monopolisation), dating back three years. But Westminster are not using the trade mark, only a descriptive word which forms part of the trade mark, and the story does not suggest that they have adopted a similar style for their sign.

I fail to understand why the Registry allowed npower to register any "juice" trade marks at all for a list of goods that includes electricity or any other power source, at least without a disclaimer over the descriptive word "juice". For goodness' sake, it's part of the dictionary definition of the word! I hope they do sue the Council (not being a Council tax payer there any more, I can say that) and one of Her Majesty's learned High Court judges has a chance to invalidate it and perhaps say a few choice words about corporate greed, which seems sometimes to be the only thing the Trade Marks Register exists for.

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