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Halewood loses Vera Lynn trademark dispute

UK-based drinks producer Halewood International has lost a trademark battle against English singer Vera Lynn over its plan to launch a gin under her name.

Dame Vera Lynn (Image credit: Vera Lynn Twitter)

Halewood International, the Liverpool-based producer of brands such as Whitley Neill gin and Dead Man’s Fingers spiced rum, submitted a trademark application on 14 June 2018 for the use of ‘Vera Lynn’ on gin and other alcoholic beverages.

The application was opposed on 1 October 2018 by Lynn’s lawyer Taylor Wessing, which claimed the company had not asked for permission to use her name.

In its defence, Halewood argued that the words ‘Vera Lynn’ are used as rhyming slang for gin.

A tribunal hearing, held on 12 November 2019, ruled in flavour of Lynn on “both grounds of passing off and bad faith”. Halewood was ordered to pay £2,000 (US$2,640) to Lynn.

The 102-year-old singer is widely recognised for her performances during the Second World War and her charitable efforts.

“Organisations must ensure that they obtain all necessary approvals before filing for trademarks for their products, particularly when using the name of a well-known person,” explained partner Charles Lloyd, who led the case.

“In this instance, the name and reputation of our client meant that Halewood were taking a huge risk in going ahead without her consent.

“Our priority was of course to support our client, and we’re pleased that the registrar agreed with our submissions. This outlines some key considerations that others in the industry need to be aware of before taking a new product and brand to market.”

In a statement, Halewood International said it “will not be pursuing the matter any further”.

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