13 December 2011

Ironic branding

The beginning of this month saw the publication of a UK trade mark application Primarni in Classes 24 and 25 in the name of an individual from Merseyside.

Unlike non-UK readers, most of us in the UK will probably think of the budget fashion store, Primark. The term Primarni is itself derived from Armani, to make Primark "sound more posh". Slang permeates British society so much so that it becomes second nature for much of the population.

I find this term a sign of typical Britishness: wanting to make something sound high class by displaying an ironic humour. It has been created by the public and, as far as I am aware, is not used directly by Primark.

On another note, it seems the domain name primarni.co.uk was registered by a furniture company back in 2007.

Primark are a heavily branded company - comparable to Lidl's own multi-branded products for food - and they own a significant number of (used) trade marks.

The multi-branded approach does not include Primarni
Registering trade marks and domain names on a defensive basis can be an endless task but should consideration be given to securing "cult brands" created by your customers to help deter opportunistic registration? Clearly, derivations from other (third party) brands creates a complex situation, you would not want to dilute your own brand and a non-used trade mark would ultimately be vulnerable to cancellation if it's never used. I do wonder how much marketing departments are happy to passively encourage their use though; there are a number of fan pages on Facebook for Primarni, for example.

Incidentally, on 7 December, just five days following publication, a Notice of Threatened Opposition was filed against the application. The IPO records do not indicate the Threatening Opponent.