A review of the UK Intellectual Property Office trade-marks database reveals registrations for ROYAL WEDDING in the UK and European Union in the name of Halewood International Brands Limited, namely Registration No. 2186688 for alcoholic beverages and Registration No. 9536913 for non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Halewood International Brands Limited also owns a registration in the European Union for PRINCE WILLIAM under Registration No. 9537051 for non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. On the day before the Royal Wedding, the same company also filed a new application in the UK for PRINCE WILLIAM under Application No. 2579545 in respect of champagne.

The company behind these trade-marks is an independent drinks manufacturer and distributor in the UK, and through its wine division, Chalié Richards, it is offering a limited edition commemorative label PRINCE WILLIAM champagne to celebrate the Royal Wedding. Chalié Richards has owned the Prince William Champagne brand for more than twenty years and has historically made it available to select retail customers. The company has held a number of royal warrants through its history, which are a mark of recognition that companies are regular suppliers of goods and services to the Royal households.

Under trade-mark legislation in the UK, the use of royal titles, amongst other things, is prohibited without Royal patronage or authorization. Indeed, it is unlikely that the trade-marks ROYAL WEDDING and PRINCE WILLIAM would have been registered without such consent.

In Canada, trade-mark legislation similarly prohibits marks which consist of, or are likely to be mistaken for, amongst other things, any word that suggests royal patronage. However, the Canadian Trade-marks Office’s Trade-marks Examination Manual indicates that no objection will normally be raised in respect of the words “royal” or “vice regal,” or to the use of titles such as “Royal Prince” or “Her Majesty.”

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It is interesting to note that the trade-mark PRINCE WILLIAM was registered in Canada under Registration No. TMA287,362 by a Toronto-based company in 1984, in association with clothing for women and children. It is no coincidence that the trade-mark application was filed less than two months after the birth of baby Prince William in June 1982, and the register does not indicate that the owner received consent, or filed evidence of acquired distinctiveness to overcome an objection that the mark is primarily merely the name of a living individual. However, trade-mark practice in Canada has evolved since the registration of this trademark over 27 years ago, and it is unlikely that this mark could be registered today absent consent or evidence that the name has acquired a secondary meaning as a trade-mark.