Halloween (not ®) fun

The UK Intellectual Property Office’s records show four registered trade marks (UK marks or Community marks covering the UK) in respect of the word “Halloween”. Take this link to carry out your own search – enter “Halloween” in the mark text search box. Halloween is the name of a perfume in a purple bottle by Spanish perfumier Jesus Del Posto. It has also been registered (along with a shape logo) for toys and playthings (unspecified) and, most recently, in an only minimally stylised form by a Dutch seed grower. A neat illustration of the trade mark system in action – separate registrations are permitted of the same word, presented with only minor visual differences (if any), for very different categories of goods.

There are nine more registrations for the word “Halloween” together with one or more other words. These registrations tend to cover the things which you would more readily associate with Halloween – “pumpkin carving tools”, “portable safety lights” and “false wands” (as opposed to real wands). This again shows the basic premise of the trade mark as a badge of origin, allowing consumers to distinguish between the goods and services of different suppliers. In law a mark cannot be registered in respect of goods or services if it is devoid of distinctive character or consists only of an indication of the intended purpose or other characteristics of those goods or services. So, whilst “Halloween” on its own could be registered for perfume and related goods, in order to be capable of registration for Halloween related merchandise, it tends to need another word or words to help to provide the necessary distinctiveness. Hence, “Meany Halloweeny” (owned by Mars), “Halloween Express” and “Halloween Works” (amongst others).

This has led me to think about Christmas. From a search of the IPO’s records today there don’t appear to be any UK registered trade marks for the word “Christmas” on its own. But I think I should save that one for nearer the time.

Have a happy Halloween!

Eleanor Peterkin

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