‘Should’ve’ has gone to Specsavers? Probably.

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Specsavers have been granted approval by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for the word ‘should’ve’ to be trademarked, in a move designed to prevent competitors from infringing the optician’s famous slogan, ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’.

Rivals have until 12 October 2016 to object to the IPO before the protection comes into force. The case is not without precedent, with Carlsberg’s use of the word ‘probably’ trademarked in relation to beer and other alcohol-related products, but most other trademarks involve a combination of words such as ‘have a break’ or ‘I’m lovin’ it’. Much of the difficulty in trademarking a single word is down to the fact that a trademark is meant to be a mark of trade origin. Where such a mark has no distinctive character, and could apply to another product, no trademark will be granted, as perfumier Chanel found to their cost when failing to trademark the name ‘Jersey’ for one of their products.

Specsavers’ case is even more unusual in that the IPO have granted protection for ‘should’ve’ across a range of areas, including printed material, and not limited the application to optician’s services and related sectors. The case is likely to lead to others seeking protection for a single word associated with their brands; examples are already being seen including applications from a range of businesses for the rights to the word ‘Brexit’.

For help with protecting your intellectual property or advice on challenging an infringement, contact Alex Craig on 0191 211 7911 or email [email protected].