Trade mark decision

BL Number
Decision date
17 May 2006
Appointed Person
Mr Richard Arnold QC
Applicant for Invalidity
Dennis Woodman
Registered Proprietor
French Connection Limited
Section 47(1) based on Section 3(3)(a)


Section 47(1) based on Section 3(3)(a): Appeal to Appointed Person dismissed.

Points Of Interest

  • 1. See Hearing Officer’s decision dated 20 December 2005 (BL O/330/05).
  • 2. Excellent review of the history and background of Section 3(3) and related Court decisions.


The applicant had applied for invalidation on the ground that the registered mark being close to the word FUCK was registered “contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality”. In his decision dated 20 December 2005 (BL O/330/05) the Hearing Officer dismissed the application on the basis that the mark in suit was likely to be perceived as a letter mark and also because it had been in use for many years and not one complaint had been upheld in relation to use of the mark on its own.

On appeal to the Appointed Person the applicant submitted that the Hearing officer had reached the wrong decision and that the application should be allowed.

The Appointed Person did a full review of the history and background to the inclusion of Section 3(3) in the 1994 Trade Marks Act. He also reviewed a number of prior cases to clarify his approach to cases of this nature and identified eleven propositions which deserved consideration in reaching a reasoned decision in cases involving “contrary to morality”. (Paragraph 60 of his decision refers). In relation to “contrary to public policy” he concluded that this should only apply in relation to granting intellectual property rights which a court would refuse to enforce. (Paragraph 57).

In relation to the current case the Appointed Person was impressed with the evidence of the registered proprietor to the effect that there had been no complaints about use of the mark on its own and also that the registered proprietor had and has strong trading links with many well known and respected UK companies. In his view the mark in suit was not objectionable, even though it might be in some cases if used in a certain context. Therefore the Hearing Officer had been right to reject the application and thus the appeal should be dismissed.

Full decision O/137/06 PDF document133Kb