Welsh language regulator investigating after company trademarks ‘cariad’ and ‘hiraeth’
A Welsh language regulator has said that they are investigating after a company was allowed to trademark the Welsh language words ‘cariad’ and ‘hiraeth’.
The Welsh Language Commissioner’s office said that they had contacted the Intellectual Property Office to investigate what had happened.
The words were copyrighted by the company Fizzy Foam from Bridgend after an application to the Intellectual Property Office.
The revelation that the words had been trademarked angered Welsh speakers who feared that it could restrict the use of everyday words.
Welsh Language Commissioner’s office said: “We are following this situation and are taking advice about whether we can take any further steps.”
They later told Nation.Cymru: “We have contacted the Intellectual Property Office to ask for a response to the situation. We are going to wait for a response from them before taking any further steps.”
An expert on intellectual property, who spoke to Nation.Cymru, however said that they thought people had over-reacted to the news.
Speaking anonymously they told us that they thought that people had misunderstood how trademarks function or are registered, and pointed to the UK Government’s rules on the matter.
They pointed out that the word ‘cariad’ among others had been trademarked before, and that a list of trademarked words was publicly available
“All trademarks have to specify which classes of goods and services they are registered in – there is no blanket registration that would bar every other person from using a trademark,” they said.
They said that the word Polo was a good example, as it had been trademarked in the context of “cars, shirts and mints”.
However, a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property has declared himself “amazed” after learning of the decision.
Jonty Gordon the director of Cwmni Amgen Law said that attempts to copyright such common words in English, particularly ‘love’, had been rejected.
He added that the decision would cause “sleepless nights” for other companies in Wales.
“It really amazes me that they got this permission – that it’s registered,” Jonty Gordon told the BBC.
“The Intellectual Property Office has been very strict on registering Welsh words on common goods such as candles, and in this context a fairly common word as well.
“There’s a famous case of the word ‘love’ where it has been rejected many times on all kinds of goods or services and when I’ve advised on registrations like that I’ve referred to that case and the Intellectual Property Office always refers to it as well and rejects any similar word.”
The decision had prompted a backlash online, with concern that the Welsh language would be bought up and others stopped from using words.
Reacting on social media, Efan ap Ifor said that the move was “outrageous”. He added that “both the Intellectual Property Office and Fizzy foam have made a major error here.
“These words belong to everyone in Wales and no one has the right to attempt to possess them as property.”
Mart Verallo John said that the decision was “disgusting”.
“Genuinely shocked the Intellectual Property Office have approved this. The Welsh language belongs to its people, it’s not for businesses to own, trademark, commodify and restrict our culture and heritage out of greed.”
Tracey Jones added: “Good grief. How can they be allowed to trademark words?? I wouldn’t buy from this company on principle.”
Morgan Lloyd said: “Money can’t buy you love, but it can trademark it in Welsh so its use is restricted if you want to put it on a candle.”
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