Media attention following last week’s annual UKIP conference focused not only on the party’s newly elected leader, but also its new logo. News reports and tweets, including one from football pundit Gary Lineker, remarked on the similarities between the new UKIP logo and the logo adopted by the Premier League last year. The new UKIP logo features a purple lion’s head next to the words “UKIP FOR THE NATION”, while the Premier League’s logo also depicts a purple lion’s head which is used both on its own and in combination with the words “Premier League”.
Initial reports stated that the Premier League’s legal team were looking into whether UKIP had infringed its intellectual property; however, a recent World Intellectual Property Review article has commented that the Premier League will not be taking any action. UKIP’s Chairman reportedly told the BBC that the party had done its due diligence before revealing the logo. It’s not clear whether this included a full trade mark availability search. It is wise to carry out such a search before adopting a new logo, whether or not you intend to apply to register it as a trade mark. Failure to do so can result in significant costs later down the line. If UKIP did carry out an availability search before launching its new logo, it will likely have been aware of the UK and EU Trade Mark Registrations owned by the Premier League for both the lion’s head alone and the lion’s head in combination with the words “Premier League”.
A brief check of the UK and EU Trade Mark Registers has shown that UKIP don’t appear to have filed an application to register its new logo as a trade mark. Interestingly, it appears never to have applied to register its old logo either. It remains to be seen whether the Premier League would maintain its position to take no action should UKIP file a trade mark application for its new logo. In the UK and EU, an earlier right holder can oppose the registration and use of a later trade mark if such use would be detrimental to the repute of the earlier mark. While UKIP’s Chairman also told the BBC that he didn’t mind UKIP being associated with the Premier League, UKIP’s less than rosy reputation may mean that the Premier League would not be quite so happy with such an association and it may wish to rely on this ground if it decides to object.