Language commissioner criticises decision to not grant Welsh trademark
The Welsh Language Commissioner has criticised a decision not to allow a Welsh language trademark.
Aled Roberts has asked the Intellectual Property Office to “reconsider” after it rejected an application from Eryri Clothing.
The Welsh firm tried to trademark the place name of ‘Eryri’ after it was forced to stop using ‘Snowdonia’ on its products.
A spokesperson for the Commissioner said the “fact that ‘Eryri’ is a Welsh name should not affect trademark decisions”.
Eryri Clothing, which used to go by the name of Snowdonia Eco Friendly Clothing, was sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter from Manchester-based fashion chain JD Williams which owns the trademark for ‘Snowdonia’.
It says it decided to try to register ‘Eryri’ as a trademark under the same clothing category in order to “play them at their own game”.
The English retailer has been bombarded by angry messages on social media after it emerged that it sent the trademark infringement warning, with some people calling for a boycott.
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.”
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Where is the logic of the IPC whereby an English company can use the word ‘Snowdonia’ as a trade mark while a Welsh business based in the area can’t use the word ‘Eryri’ because it would “not be perceived as a trademark by the average customer and would instead be perceived as an indicator that the items of clothing were produced or designed or sold in Eryri/Snowdonia”?
Sad to say, more people associate ‘Snowdonia’ with a geographical location than do ‘Eryri’. So wth does Snowdonia have to do with Manchester?
JD Williams’ use of ‘Snowdonia’ is particularly misleading, given that they are based in another country.
I assume Eryri Clothing are actually based in Eryri, making their requested use of the name accurate, informative and logical.
Perhaps Eryri Clothing should trademark ‘Lake District’, ‘Peak District’, ‘Potteries’ and ‘Exmoor’.
There seems to be a little racial prejudice at the IPO.
Absolutely scummy behaviour from the English government towards Wales again! That’s yet another massive corporation using intimidation and pettiness to maintain profit margins. I love Wales and have very fond memories of climbing there for the first time with my now departed dad, back in the mid & late 1980s when I visited his home there several times. I wish you may find a way to make this right because it stinks to higher than that awesomeness of a mountain range. Blessings to all Welsh folks and keep going because they cannot kill the passion for your culture no matter… Read more »
Diolch yn fawr.
I have to say, I find it utterly bizarre that you can trademark a place name.
So, in theory, a souvenir shop could trademark “London”, “Paris” or “Madrid” and effectively put all competitors out of business?
Amazon, Patagonia, Fuji, Olympus.
The fact that it happens doesn’t mean it makes sense. And in any case, I very much doubt Brazil can’t stamp stuff with Amazon on it etc.
In fact, I just looked at my yerba maté box and it has Amazon written on it and it isn’t the Amazon which is the online supermarket.
What an absolute joke, they’ll be trying to take the name off people’s address next. Change your brand to Manchester ship canal instead and keep tf out of Wales, you’re not wanted here JD Williams