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What was the “source of action” for Harry and Meghan’s latest trade mark filings?

17th Apr 2020

On 3 March 2020, a company called Cobblestone Lane LLC filed an application in the USA for the mark ARCHEWELL. The application was in respect of a wide range of goods and services, including charitable fundraising and emotional support and counselling services. Taking advantage of the 6 month “priority” period that follows the first filing of a trade mark, further applications were filed in the UK, EU and elsewhere for the same mark and goods/services, claiming the benefit of the original US filing date.

So far, so fairly usual. Then on 6 April 2020, the Telegraph newspaper in the UK revealed that the applications had been filed on behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who planned to launch a new non-profit organisation under the name ARCHEWELL. Although the couple had apparently planned to delay making any announcement about the new organisation, following the revelation they made a statement in which they shared the source of the name.

“Before SUSSEX ROYAL came the idea of ‘arche’ – the Greek word meaning ‘source of action’. We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we must each draw upon. We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right.”

So the first name of young Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was inspired by the Greek word “arche”, from which words such as “archetype” are also derived.

The Duke and Duchess appear to have rebranded after it became clear that the Palace would not allow them to continue to use the “Royal” title once they had stopped working for “the Firm”, as the Royal family is sometimes known. Having spent much on filing trade mark applications around the world for marks including “SUSSEX ROYAL”, the couple confirmed that they would be withdrawing these applications.

If they had not been withdrawn, there was a question as to whether the UK applications for “SUSSEX ROYAL” marks would have been faced objections under a rarely used part of the UK Trade Marks Act : Section 4 (1) (d). This provides that:

“A trade mark which consists of or contains –

….. (d) words, letters or devices likely to lead persons to think that the applicant either has or recently has had Royal patronage or authorisation,

shall not be registered unless it appears to the registrar that consent has been given by or on behalf of Her Majesty or, as the case may be, the relevant Member of the Royal Family.”

Having each relinquished their own right to use the title “Royal Highness”, it was commented that the Duke and Duchess would presumably require the Queen’s approval in order to be able to register any “ROYAL” mark in the UK.

Although they have withdrawn their own applications, we wonder whether the Duke and Duchess may still want to try to object to the numerous unauthorised applications for “ROYAL SUSSEX” marks which have been filed in many countries (see our previous article). Without registered rights over these words, however, this may be even more difficult for them than anticipated.

IP professionals can be grateful to the Sussexes for again bringing widespread media attention to trade mark issues – and we can all be thankful for something to talk about other than the coronavirus!

This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.

Catherine Nursaw
Senior Associate
About the author

Would you like to know more? You can talk to Catherine Nursaw who will be able to help. Call +44 (0)20 7242 0901


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