The importance of brand protection …as told by Greta Thunberg

Kerman & Co. website
February 17, 2020 Advisory

If you don’t know who Greta Thunberg is by now, most likely you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year (or you’re Amanda Henderson on Celebrity Mastermind). Greta Thunberg is now one of the most recognisable climate activists of all time, making some profound breakthroughs by raising awareness of climate change across the globe. Her work earned her the title of Time’s person of the year in 2019.

Unfortunately, however, it tends to be the case that the bigger you and your brand become, the more it is open to brand infringement. It has already been reported by The Times last December that merchandise depicting and falsely advertising Greta’s movement (without her permission) has been manufactured and sold across the world (which has somewhat ironically been criticised for the unnecessary use of plastic).

Unsurprisingly therefore, it has reached the point where more robust protection of her name and brand is necessary. On 29 January 2020, Greta Thunberg announced to her 9.8 million followers on Instagram that she is doing just that. As a result of impersonators and people pretending to represent her for their own benefit, she has announced that she is trademarking her name, the slogan ‘Fridays For Future’, ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ and other signs that make up part of her movement.

Subject to these marks proceeding to registration, it would give Greta a much stronger position to enforce her brand and take legal action against people wrongly using her name and slogan without her permission.

Greta is not the only famous figure to register their name or their brand for protection purposes. David Beckham has famously trademarked his name and signature in a number of countries across a wide number of classes, so that other manufacturers are unable (without legal consequences) to produce anything which may be interpreted as being associated with him and his brand.

Similarly, José Mourinho has also had his name and signature trademarked in classes ranging from clothing to videogames across the world. Interestingly, he sold his trademark rights to Chelsea Football Club during his time as manager and the club remains to this day the owner of these rights. This has caused some raucous headlines since José’s departure and subsequent employment by Tottenham Hotspur.

Nevertheless, it is an important message that Greta and others have been publicising with regard to brand protection. Registering your trademark is a sure way of granting you with more concrete rights against those who want to take advantage of your brand and reputation than if your mark was unregistered.

In the UK and the EU, legislation exists that states infringement can occur when a person uses a sign which is identical or similar to your registered trademark.

As the proprietor of a registered mark, you would be entitled to demand that certain measures are taken by any infringer.  Some common remedies include:

  • Requesting for a monetary sum to reflect the damages suffered (e.g. loss of profits);
  • Requesting compensation (e.g. for loss of reputation);
  • Requesting an order for delivery up or destruction of infringing goods; and
  • An injunction against the infringer.

So, what’s the moral of the story? If Greta’s Thunberg’s marks successfully proceed to registration, there will be one more reason why she is a force to be reckoned with.

Originally published at prior to the firm’s combination with Armstrong Teasdale in early 2021.

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