The phrase “should’ve gone to Specsavers” is now synonymous with the international optometrist chain Specsavers so it comes as no surprise that the retailer would seek to protect its famous slogan. What is surprising, however, is that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has accepted the application.

Along with something that is purely descriptive, it is usually considered extremely difficult, if not impossible, to register a single word or phrase which has a common usage. In this instance, however, the IPO has accepted the application on the grounds that the word “should’ve” can be linked to Specsavers through “use or association”. Specsavers has in fact been using the slogan since 2003.

There is now a 2 month opposition period during which rivals are able to oppose the application. If the application is successful, and the word is registered, this could make life very hard for Specsavers’ rivals as competitors of the high street chain will no longer be able to use the words “should’ve” or “shouldve” in their marketing materials.

Although it is considered rare to obtain a trademark in respect of common words, there are some other well known slogans which have been awarded such protection. These include McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ It” slogan and Nestle’s “Have a Break” in respect of its KitKat chocolate bar. Carlsberg is the other notable success, having successfully secured a trademark for the word “probably” but only in respect of the promotion of beer and related alcohol products.

This is not the first time Specsavers has sought to protect its intellectual property. In 2014 it successfully defeated Asda, the supermarket chain, in respect of trade mark infringement and passing off. Adding another trademark to its portfolio will further strengthen and protect the Specsavers brand.