A UK law which likely requires the Queens consent to register Sussex Royal as a trademark may leave Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with little choice but to drop the brand, lawyers have told WIPR.
The couple, who have decided to step back from royal duties, are in discussions with the Queen and the rest of the royal family on the precise nature of their future relationship.
Particularly at issue is the pairs continued use of the term Sussex Royal, which the Queen reportedly considers untenable as they seek distance from active royal life.
Andy King, partner at Mewburn Ellis, said the Queens position means that the registrations, expected to be granted next month, could contravene UK trademark law.
WIPR reported yesterday, February 20, that section 4 of the UK Trade Marks Act 1994 requires the royal familys consent for marks which could lead the public to think the application had royal authorisation.
If the Queen, as reported, considers the Sussex Royal brand to be untenable, then this could potentially be seen as consent having been withdrawn, King said, clarifying that this would only apply once the couple formally step back from royal duties at the end of March.
The registrations may be vulnerable to cancellation on this basis, although not necessarily, he said. The legal test is the position at the time that the applications were submitted, a time when the Sussexs did have consent. It is for this same reason that the applications may not be opposable on this ground as things stand.
While there have been multiple notices of threatened opposition against the Sussex Royal marks, no formal oppositions have yet been filed.
But given the reported disagreement with the royal family, if the registrations do indeed grant next month, it would seem necessary for the registrations to then be surrendered, he added.
Harry and Meghan left with no choice
Laurie Heizler, of counsel at Barlow Robbins in London, said the Sussex Royal Foundation, which filed the marks and is owned by the couple, should do the right thing and withdraw the applications.
Given the Queens position, Heizler said it is difficult to imagine that these trademark applications can now make any progress.
Heizler argued that, in light of the Queens reported position, it would certainly be in bad faith if the couples company tried to progress the applications, despite having had royal authorisation when they were filed.
Even if it did so, the well-publicised controversy surrounding the couple and the Queens interventions would most likely lead to the UK Intellectual Property Office refusing to grant the trademarks, Heizler added.
The company would be well advised to withdraw the trademarksit probably has no choice, he said.
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