Trade mark decision

BL Number
Decision date
21 March 2001
Appointed Person
Mr Geoffrey Hobbs QC
A & F Trade Mark Inc
J & J Crombie Ltd
Sections 3(1)(a) & 3(1)(b)


Section 3(1)(a) Appeal dismissed. Opposition failed.

Section 3(1)(b): Appeal dismissed. Opposition failed.

Points Of Interest

  • 1. See also Hearing Officer’s decision dated 14 February 2000 ( BL O/040/00) and his decision under the 1938 Act of the same date ( BL O/041/00).


This was an appeal from the Hearing Officer’s decision dated 14 February 2000 (BL O/040/00) in which he allowed registration, even though he was aware that ABERCROMBIE (and its phonetic equivalent ABERCROMBY) was a Scottish surname, but not a common one in the UK as a whole.

In a parallel decision of the same date (BL O/041/00) the Hearing Officer had refused registration of the mark ABERCROMBIE because it appeared 58 times as a surname in the Glasgow Telephone Directory and this figure was higher than the guidelines set for acceptance under the Trade Marks Act 1938.

On appeal the opponents argued that the Hearing Officer should also have refused registration under the 1994 Trade Marks Act. The Appointed Person reviewed the guidance set down in previous decisions and in the Registrar’s Manual. It was clear that surnames were not barred from registration by the provisions of the 1994 Act, as distinct from the provisions of the 1938 Act, and that ABERCROMBIE (and ABERCROMBY) were not common surnames in the UK as a whole. Taking an overall view of the matter the Appointed Person decided that the Hearing Officer had made the right decision to allow registration of the mark in suit under the 1994 Act. Appeal dismissed.

Full decision O/151/01 PDF document50Kb