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Winter Is Here For GoT Trademark Oppositions

The hugely popular TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ returns for its hotly anticipated final series on Monday 15 April. Makers of the show Home Box Office (HBO) will be hoping for a better reception than they received recently from the Intellectual Property Office when they opposed trademark registrations for ‘Game of Vapes’ and ‘Game of Stones’.

HBO hold 12 EU trademarks for ‘Game of Thrones’ in word and various figurative forms and for different goods and services. It has filed a further 8 applications this year alone, presumably as it develops new merchandising, and has developed a reputation for aggressively pursuing any perceived infringements of these marks that it comes across.

Game of Vapes’ was submitted for registration in April 2017 in respect of tobacco products and HBO opposed the application on the basis of its earlier ‘Game of Thrones’ EU trademark for the same products. To be successful with this opposition HBO would have had to show that there was a likelihood of confusion between the applied for mark and its registration. Though the IPO held that the phrases were somewhat similar they felt that the difference in concept was significant and whilst people might appreciate ‘Game of Vapes’ was a comedic play on ‘Game of Thrones’ this would not lead to any confusion as to the source of the goods supplied by the applicant. The opposition was therefore refused.

Game of Stones’ was submitted for registration by Wadworth brewery in September 2017. The mark applied for was figurative in the form replicated below. HBO opposed the application due to its similarities with their registrations and on the basis that it would dilute the reputation of their marks. This opposition was again refused, on the basis that visually the marks were significantly different (not least the stone circle device) and that this led to a low level of conceptual similarity. It was also stated that any similarity was due to an attempt at parody and not through any intention by the brewery to deceive customers.

Trademarks are an invaluable tool for protecting a brand and every business should ensure that their brands are registered. They allow you to stop other businesses taking advantage of your reputation and the investment you have made in marketing. These decisions show however that trademarks do not provide blanket protection and for that reason it is important to talk to a specialist when registering a trademark to ensure that you get the protection you need. The team at Baines Wilson can assist with this and with the development and implementation of a wider brand protection strategy.

If you have any queries do not hesitate to contact Adam Turley at a.turley@baineswilson.co.uk

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