The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Seek Global Trademark Protection of “Sussex Royal” Brand

On December 31 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle filed a world trademark application for SUSSEX ROYAL THE FOUNDATION OF THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF SUSSEX. On January 1, 2020, the couple filed a second trademark application for SUSSEX ROYAL. Each application used a previous UK filing from June 21, 2019 as the basis for its international application with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO). This international filing covers Australia, Canada, the European Union, and the United States, and was filed under the name of the Royal couple’s new foundation.

The applications cover a wide range of goods and services, including printed matter such as educational materials and activity books, clothing, campaigning, charitable fund raising, education, training and sporting activities, and social care services including emotional support groups.

Since officially stepping down from their Royal duties last month, the couple has been working on branding themselves outside of their royal appearances. In addition to the international trademark applications, the couple has also recently launched an Instagram page and website. However, alongside the opportunities that may be available for the Royal couple, Harry and Meghan may face difficulties in successfully registering these marks and protecting their brand. 

An application was filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office to trademark a number of goods, including toiletries, jewellery, luggage, sporting articles, beer, and alcoholic beverages, using the mark SUSSEX ROYAL. The applicant, Ui Phoenix Kerbl, appears to be an Italian designer based out of Bolzano, Italy. Since the Royal couple’s international filings, 16 additional applications have been filed and made available on WIPO, seemingly unrelated to the Royal couple and their brand.

In addition to the growing number of individuals applying for registration of the SUSSEX ROYAL mark and the potential for oppositions to the couple’s applications, Harry and Meghan seem to have filed their WIPO applications past the six month deadline. Given that both international applications claim priority to the UK applications from June 21, 2019, Harry and Meghan had six months, until December 21 2019, to file their applications with WIPO. If questions do arise with respect to the date of the international filing, further difficulties may present themselves given the number of individuals who have filed a national trademark application with their respective jurisdiction.

In seeking to protect their brand, the Royal couple is working towards remaining members of the Royal family while having financial independence. If the applied-for marks are successful, it is estimated that Harry and Meghan could make as much as £500,000 in their first year by tapping into the profitable North American market. Further, it is suggested that the use of the SUSSEX ROYAL mark on various products could “generate revenues of £400 million”.

Written by Alessia Monastero, IPilogue editor and articling student at Deeth Williams Wall LLP.

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