Gin company must pay Dame Vera Lynn £1,800 after trying to trademark the 102-year-old singer’s name for its new product – claiming it is ‘Cockney rhyming slang’ Halewood International applied to register trademark ‘Vera Lynn’ in June 2018. The company Claimed 102-year-old’s name was well known as Cockney rhyming slang for gin, Dame Vera opposed it as her name could be seen as endorsement of the drink. The drinks firm argued that there would be no confusion as Dame Vera is more well-known to the product’s audience as a cockney rhyming term than as a singer.
But Ms Skilton ultimately found in favour of Dame Vera, ruling that ‘the applicant … has failed to provide any evidence of the level of understanding of cockney rhyming slang in the UK, or anything to illustrate the level of awareness of the term Vera Lynn with reference to gin.
‘The evidence falls a long way short of showing that the relevant public for alcoholic beverages will, on encountering ‘Vera Lynn’, see it as a rhyming slang reference for gin, rather than bringing to mind the entertainer Vera Lynn, who has been in the entertainment business for 84 years.’
Gin Company lost and must now pay £1,800 legal bill – but says it could appeal.
The We’ll Meet Again singer’s legal team told trademark hearing officer Al Skilton: ‘(Dame Vera) is an extremely well-known singer and performer whose musical recordings and performances have been popular since the Second World War. She is also very well-known for her charity work, including with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer. Well-known personalities are known to endorse products, there will inevitably be confusion that the opponent has endorsed the applicant’s products.’