Geography Not Exclusive

A recent intellectual property case has again illustrated the principle that the courts are unlikely to accept that geographical terms ‘belong’ to a particular business.

It involved the launch of a publication called ‘The Southern Farmer’. A pre-existing magazine called ‘South East Farmer’ alleged that ‘The Southern Farmer’ was infringing its trade mark. The court rejected the claim, ruling that there was little likelihood that a consumer would confuse the two. The publications had a different appearance and the use of geographical descriptions in titles is commonplace.

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