IP Information & News

Is the Remembrance Day poppy a trade mark?

The UK Border Force has seized a haul of counterfeit "poppy-branded goods", possibly destined for fraudulent collecting teams, which infringed registered trade mark rights of the Royal British Legion and Earl Haig Fund.

Background

The paper poppy and other poppy merchandise is sold by the Royal British Legion. The Poppy Appeal raises funds to support members of the armed forces, as well as to commemorate those who have lost their life in war.

On Friday 10 November, the day before Armistice Day, the UK Border Force Agency announced that its team based at Tilbury Docks had randomly inspected an air freight consignment from China, destined for an address in Manchester. They had discovered a haul of poppy-branded goods worth approximately £150,000. The goods included over 5,000 badges, 1,200 scarves and 1,200 key rings.

Is the Remembrance Day poppy a trade mark?

Yes. The Royal British Legion owns multiple trade mark rights for the poppy in many different styles for goods and services including key rings and fobs, jewellery, badges and tie pins, bags and umbrellas, clothing and fundraising.

In the haul, officers also intercepted 600 four-petal brooches, which infringed the registered trade mark owned by the Earl Haig Fund Scotland (trading as poppyscotland), a Scottish charity for veterans of the British armed forces.

What happens with suspected counterfeit goods?

UK Border Force Agency suspected that there had been trade mark infringement and contacted both charities. They also work closely with Trading Standards and the Intellectual Property Office to determine whether there are any registered rights. When goods are identified as fake by the rights holders, they are destroyed and the rights holders can decide whether to privately prosecute the importers.

Both charities must now ensure that all of their trade mark rights are up-to-date so that they can be enforced against such counterfeiters and so that members of the public can be confident that their donations are going to the intended registered charity.

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