This week it was reported that ice cream parlour, Fabio’s Gelato, received a request from Marks & Spencer concerning the use of one of M&S’s trademarks, through the advertisement of “Perky Pig Gelato.”
Here, Kellsey Logue and Lawrence Thomas explore what trademarks are and why it is important to protect them.
Last week, Fabio’s Gelato posted the letter received from M&S to social media, which said that “while [M&S] are flattered that [Fabio’s Gelato] have been inspired to create a flavour based on [its] Percy Pig sweets, and in no way wish to stop [the parlour] selling this flavour or from using [M&S’s] sweets to top it,” M&S must protect the Percy Pig mark as one if its ‘hero brands’.
In response to the letter, the parlour’s director, Fabio Vincenti, has since confirmed that the gelato has been renamed ‘Fabios Pig’.
A trademark is a sign used by a business to distinguish its products and services from those of other traders. Many memorable brands use simple symbols, but trademarks can consist of various ‘marks’ including names, logos, slogans and shapes.
Registering your brand, logos, and business names as trademarks with the Intellectual Property Office is important in protecting your brand. Importantly to M&S in this case, a brand often provides consumers with reassurance of the origin of the products or services, and their quality.
Securing trademark protection is a vital part of protecting your brand and preventing others from using the same, or similar marks.
Trademarks can also be important to the growth of a business. A business which is selling their own products and services under their trademarks may find it beneficial to allow further exploitation by licensing the rights to their trademarks to third parties. For example, where a business does not have sufficient resource, or a presence in a particular territory, trademarks can be licensed to third parties who have the expertise and resources to support the further exploitation of the brand.
To benefit from the protection trademarks offer, businesses should be vigilant about the use of their marks by others in the market; something which M&S are well-known for, and who are quick to take steps against others using their marks without permission.
It is also important for businesses to understand and respect the trademarks of others, to ensure it is not encroaching on a trademark of another business.
Businesses should register their marks. Unregistered trademarks can be difficult to protect and enforce, whilst a registered trademark gives the owner a right to exclusive use of the mark in connection with the goods and services for which it is registered, making it easier to protect and enforce.
If you would like to discuss your trademarks and how you can register, protect, and exploit them, please get in touch with our team.