Liverpool bid to trademark name 'Liverpool' is rejected

Liverpool corner flag
The Reds have seen a trademarking bid turned down by the Intellectual Property Office after a lengthy application process

Liverpool’s controversial application to trademark the name ‘Liverpool’ has been unsuccessful.

The Reds confirmed on Thursday that the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) had rejected their proposal, citing “the geographical significance” of Liverpool as a city in comparison to place names that have been trademarked by other football clubs in the UK.

The club say they have accepted the IPO’s decision, but insisted it would “continue to aggressively pursue those large-scale operations which seek to illegally exploit our intellectual property and would urge the relevant authorities to take decisive action against such criminal activity wherever it exists.”

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Their decision to apply for trademarking had attracted widespread criticism from supporters and local traders alike. Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, said he and his council would oppose the application, while critics included the Liverpool supporters’ union and local football club City of Liverpool FC. 

In a bid to soothe relations, Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore had engaged in dialogue with those concerned, insisting the sole aim was to protect the club against traders profiting illegally from the use of the club’s name and branding, although significantly the application was never withdrawn.

Following the IPO’s decision, Moore said: “It should be stressed that our application was put forward in good faith and with the sole aim of protecting and furthering the best interests of the club and its supporters. Nevertheless, we accept the decision and the spirit in which it has been made.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to reiterate our thanks to all those who engaged with us throughout this process, most notably independent traders and local football clubs.”

In an interview given to the Liverpool ECHO on Thursday, Moore admitted the club had underestimated the kind of backlash their application would prompt.

"We underestimated the reaction to it,” he said. "We had, in very good faith, looked at what we were seeing on a global basis and particularly stuff that was coming into the UK.

"We felt obliged to protect the football club and had looked at other similar situations for clubs that had trademarked their place names in a football context, there are numerous examples.

"We felt that on behalf of the club we needed to do that - but I think it's fair to say that we underestimated the emotional reaction to it and that's our bad.

"Whilst we continued with the filing, we received the rejection from the IPO and we accept that and move on - we have got plenty of other stuff to do."

Moore added: "There was no deliberate action to slip it through, we had looked at other precedents where it had gone through with almost zero noise whatsoever.

"We filed and got on with our business and obviously as things unfolded the reaction was pretty quick and we immediately engaged with the independent retailers and the local football clubs and met with them - and reassured them that this was not aimed at them and offered them legal protections for if we had been successful.

"But we were not and now we will move on."

Liverpool supporters' union Spirit of Shankly have also released a statement in support of the decision, which reads: "Spirit of Shankly welcome the IPO’s rejection of Liverpool FC’s trademark application, and the club’s decision not to appeal against it.

"SOS were clear at the outset that the word ‘Liverpool’ is not for FSG or anybody else to own – it belongs to the city of Liverpool and its people. We should all be allowed to use it freely, however we see fit, without fear of legal letters dropping through our doors. 

"LFC have enough legal remedies from their current trademarks to address any issues they may have. Any more is unnecessary.

"Without fan activism, this issue may not have ended like this. Without fan involvement, there would be no challenge to the corporate greed within football. SOS remain vigilant to the stealth of the club in their relentless pursuit of money at any cost."