Welsh business forced to change name

The Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts, has criticised a decision not to allow a Welsh language trademark. He has asked the UK Intellectual Property Office to “reconsider” after it rejected a trademark application from North Wales company, Eryri Clothing, on the grounds that you cannot trademark geographical locations.

The Welsh firm tried to trademark the place name of ‘Eryri’ after it was forced by Manchester-based fashion chain JD Williams (which owns the ‘Snowdonia’ trademark) to stop using their original name of Snowdonia Eco Friendly Clothing.

A spokesperson for the Commissioner said the “fact that ‘Eryri’ is a Welsh name should not affect trademark decisions”. Eryri is Welsh for Snowdonia.

The clothing company said it decided to try to register ‘Eryri’ as a trademark under the same clothing category in order to “play them at their own game”.

JD Williams has suffered a PR disaster from the passionate response by ‘Eryri’ supporters on social media, after it emerged that they sent them the trademark infringement cease and desist letter. A spokesperson for the Welsh Language Commissioner told Nation.Cymru: “The Welsh Language Commissioner can confirm that an enquiry has been received regarding this matter.

“The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 gives the Welsh language official status in Wales. “The Commissioner will contact the Intellectual Property Office to reaffirm this status and to ask the IPO to reconsider the application. The Commissioner also states that the fact that ‘Eryri’ is a Welsh name should not affect trademark decisions.”

IPO told the Daily Post: “Geographical place names are not automatically excluded for registration. “In assessing whether any place name can function as a trademark, we have to consider factors including the extent of any current association between the place name and the goods or services intended for protection, and the perception of those relevant consumers likely to encounter the sign when used as a trademark.

“As part of this application process, we welcome the views of the applicant and any relevant information and evidence they may wish to provide.”

Eryri is a special place to The Trademark Helpline team, so we will be watching this story closely to bring you developments.

Image credit: Eryri Clothing Instagram

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