Liverpool FC make trade mark statement
Liverpool Football Club (“Liverpool FC”) is an English football team that plays in the English Premier League – the top tier of English football. Liverpool FC has a fan base that stretches across the globe, however, it is the local Liverpudlian supporters and the City of Liverpool itself that are angered by the current situation.
Liverpool FC is attempting to trade mark the word “Liverpool” in a bold statement to protect the club and follow in the footsteps of rival Premier League teams such as Everton, Chelsea and Southampton. Officials at Liverpool FC have stated that the application to the UK Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) is solely to protect the club and its supporters from counterfeit products that are on the market and will only be applied in the context of football products. Nevertheless, growing criticism can be seen from the fan base of Liverpool FC as the trade mark would then see issues arise in relation to local businesses and local clubs who use the term ‘Liverpool’ in the course of business.
A Liverpool FC supporters’ group, known as the Spirit of Shankly are openly opposing the application. Spirit of Shankly believes that such an application is a blatant capitalisation on the rich heritage that surrounds Liverpool FC. It says that the Liverpool name is not for Fenway Sports Group (Liverpool FC’s owner) to own but for the people of the city to own. The City of Liverpool FC, a Northern Premier North West Division side, has also opposed the application on the basis of its position that no privately-owned business should be able to own the name of a city in any context.
Amid these concerns, Liverpool FC gave assurances that it would never seek to register the mark ‘Liverpool’ across the board. Needless to say, local businesses and the City of Liverpool FC are still bound to feel threatened by the application as ultimately, Liverpool FC would have the power litigate or threaten to litigate to force certain name changes or require local businesses and clubs to pay for a licence.
It is likely that fans are looking to the recent issue that AFTV had with Arsenal Football Club: the football club forced the YouTube channel to change its name to AFTV from Arsenal Fan TV under threat of trade mark infringement proceedings.
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