UK university registers potentially confusing trademarks

UK university registers potentially confusing trademarks


A UK university has filed some potentially unfortunate trademark applications in an attempt to make its website easier to find.

Newcastle University, in the north of England, has applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office to trademark the terms 'Central University of Newcastle upon Tyne', 'Civic University of Newcastle upon Tyne' and 'Research University of Newcastle upon Tyne'.

However, when used as an acronym, as is often the case with universities, the trademarked phrases would become RUNT and another, unpublishable word.

Patricia Collis, trademark attorney at Bristows LLP in London, said the applications appeared to be part of a trend among universities but warned them to remain vigilant when attempting to re-brand their institutions.

“Whilst these new applications appear to be part of a trend that sees universities becoming more aware of the importance of branding, and of protecting their brands, they highlight the fact that, like any business, universities also need to be acutely aware of the marketplace in which they operate,” Collis said.

“The number of different institutions and courses available today often leads to the use of abbreviations and acronyms so it’s definitely sensible for such bodies to bear this in mind when coming up with and protecting names.”

The trademarks were applied for in July this year under classes 41, 42 and 44 for education research and medical purposes.

“We have registered these new trademarks to help students who may be searching for us on the web, particularly international students,” a spokesman for the university told WIPR in a statement. 

“They are all common variations that people may search for and they will simply help interested students find us quicker.”

The trademark applications have led to the university being featured on several UK news websites due to the disparaging terms the trademarks’ acronyms would create.

(Source: WIPR)

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