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Can a racehorse’s name be trade marked?

The most valuable jump race in Europe, the Grand National, returns this weekend to Aintree and an estimated 500 to 600 million people in over 140 countries will be tuning in to see if their horse is first to make it past the finishing post.

This led us to ask how racehorses like last year’s winner “Rule The World” and runner-up “The Last Samurai” are named and if it is possible for these names to then become trade marks.

For a horse to be named they need to first go to the British Horseracing Authority who are in charge of regulating racehorse names and the system they use does have similarities with the trade mark system trade mark attorneys use.

A racehorse must have a unique name so it is easy to tell each horse apart and it needs to be no more than 18 characters or seven syllables long. The name stays with them for life so it is important to choose the right one. There are other things to consider like what the name would sound like when the commentator is describing it hurtling down the home straight and if the name is offensive or vulgar.

A horses name has every right to be trade marked as long as it meets the correct criteria just like your normal trade mark application. Legendary racehorse “Frankel” is currently registered as a trade mark for a host of different products and services.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is much like the British Horseracing Authority in that it oversees applications and makes a decision on whether they are suitable for purpose.

The UKIPO considers things such as uniqueness of a brands name and whether that name is obscene or vulgar amongst other things just like the British Horseracing Authority does when it considers racehorse names.


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