Uni bids to trademark ‘Oxford’ on 126 products
(This article was originally published at https://cherwell.org/2018/10/20/uni-bids-to-trademark-oxford-on-126-products/ in October 2018)
A bid for exclusive use of the city’s name has been submitted by Oxford University Press (OUP), a department of the University, as a “precautionary measure” in response to “ongoing uncertainty around Brexit”.
A successful application would mean that OUP would be the only institution or business to be able to use the name free of charge. If approved, the University would have the sole right to use the city’s name on any product, including stationary, DVD, maps, bibles, newspapers, tickets or journals.
However, the trademark would not limit the word being used in print and, in potential legal disputes, decisions would be based on a “reasonable view” of whether there could be any confusion between the University and those using its trademark.
With the trademark, OUP will also be able to take legal action against anyone using the city’s name without previously gaining permission from them to do so. OUP would also be able to sell and license use of the name.
Unless formal opposition is created, OUP’s bid – which cost £270 to launch – is set to become active within the next three months.
In response, Oxford City Councillor Roz Smith expressed concern for the city’s other major institutions. Smith said: “Oxford is not just ‘gown’, it’s town and, in our case, city, and I don’t want to see a divide. What will this do for the Oxford Mail? For Oxford Brookes University?”
Arun Prasad, manager of a shop on Cornmarket Street which sells Oxford University hoodies, phone covers, and mugs, told The Oxford Times: “I sell a lot of official Oxford University merchandise – I don’t think that would be affected.
“I do also sell one or two souvenir items which just display the word ‘Oxford’ but if there was a problem with these then I would simply return them to my supplier. I’m not too worried at the moment – we will wait and see what happens.”
OUP initially filed the application to have the exclusive right to produce 122 products with the name “Oxford” in March, but due to technical changes in the process it was resubmitted on Monday.
Referring to the move, a spokesperson from OUP said: “Oxford University Press is over 500 years old, and we have had ‘Oxford’ registered as a trade mark for our products since 1994, and across Europe since 2000.
“We have filed an additional trade mark application in the UK for the same products and services where we use the word ‘Oxford’.”
They added: “[Trade marking the name] will help us protect the work we do to achieve our mission – furthering the University’s objectives of excellent in research, scholarship and education.”
If the University’s trademark is approved, the trademark will be in effect for the next decade.