Thursday, 19 November 2009

Trademarking the underground

Trademarking the underground

Friday I got a letter from lawyers for Transport for London. In 2008 they trademarked the word 'underground'. To trademark something you pay £250 to the Patents office and an extra £50 for each category or section, ranging from cartoons and cassette players to jewellery, from jokebooks, parasols, christmas crackers and magnets to transportation of persons, animals, goods, valuables by air, sea, rail, underground rail ect. London Underground have trademarked everything in sight, including Section 43 which covers cafe, bar, restaurant, catering services. As far as I know they don't use the catering category. If they fail to use it within five years I can make an application.
The letter spelled out that their client was anxious that my use of the words 'The Underground Restaurant'
"is likely to be held to infringe the rights afforded by our client's registration"It goes on to say "According to our internet research, you are using the mark The Underground Restaurant in relation to a restaurant operated from your home. Whilst it is appreciated that you are using the word 'underground' to convey a sense of secrecy, rather than the London Underground rail system, nevertheless our client is concerned that confusion could arise. ...Client is also concerned that your use of The Underground Restaurant trade mark could be detrimental to our client's brand. Clearly our client does not want such associations with its brand."
Twitter responded, firstly in amazement (especially coming so soon after the Harry Notter debacle) and secondly with scorn and amusement.
twitawitch @MsMarmitelover That's ridiculous. They going to sue Mike Batt for saying the word Undergound in the Wombles song too?
EssexEating @MsMarmitelover thats kind of thin....... How can they have a claim on the word 'underground'?
montimer @msmarmitelover you're kidding
joannasb @MsMarmitelover Really? Do they have a trademark on the word "underground"
jerrybarnett @MsMarmitelover No way... they can't enforce the use of a generic word... I'm pretty sure but not a lawyer
rhodri @MsMarmitelover That's ludicrous. You could rename it with a small "u" for underground, perhaps. They can't stop that, surely.
chrispople @MsMarmitelover @londoneating @oliverthring Do they also have a claim on the word 'London'? Idiots
WHampstead @MsMarmitelover surely they don't have a leg to stand on there? You can't trademark common words, and you're not using their logo.
paulscooking@MsMarmitelover Please do not use the word Oyster on your menu's neither :) joking aside that's terrible
chrispople @MsMarmitelover You should reply that as your restaurant is friendly, value for money and comfortable the similarities are minimal
aforkful@MsMarmitelover that's ridiculous. Have they registered 'The Underground' as a trade mark? Can there be any poss confusion betw u? Unlikely
jerrybarnett@MsMarmitelover I'm thinking of suing you for using my middle name - Lover
handlewithcare @MsMarmitelover Ask them if you serve very late, strike for days for no reason,and charge extortionate amounts, if they'll endorse you?
MaisonCupcake @MsMarmitelover That's crazy. We have Oasis the shop, the band, the drink co-existing. What's the difference?
indiaknight@MsMarmitelover Mad. Make a big fuss.
londoneating@MsMarmitelover - Wonder if they have problems with the Underground Cookery School or LSE's Underground bar? Ridiculous.
essexgourmet@MsMarmitelover Jeez - read that wrong. Have a word with Oli from London Underground Comics : http://londonundergroundcom...
(I did and he hadn't had any problem with them...)
LadybirdFi@MsMarmitelover You should write a book about all of this : What you didn't know about Harry Potter's food.
dasilvajums@MsMarmitelover did they complain at Jamiroquai with his Deeper Underground?? what piffle
al_robertson@MsMarmitelover Hmm, seems mischievous to me; surely there's no risk of passing off / confusion?
mcbazza@MsMarmitelover if Apple/Apple Corps can co-exist, can't you+LU? Obviously, you'd have to agree to not run (2nd rate) mass transit network.
dasilvajums@MsMarmitelover you could point out you work weekends which the Underground most definitely does not. See, no similarity at all.
MaisonCupcake@MsMarmitelover they could object to using a variation of their "roundel", but no claim on "underground" in sense of secret or nonmainstream agaqueen@MsMarmitelover dig in and think of the Underground Resistance Fighters..........
agaqueen@MsMarmitelover Henry's just suggested that London Underground sues You Tube for hijacking "tube".........!!
MsMarmitelover @damnyoudex What would Joan Collins do in this situation?!
damnyoudex@MsMarmitelover she would sit back with a glass of champagne& laugh at them. 'Fools!' she would shout.' whilst dex massages her feet'.
KaveyF@MsMarmitelover They're just trying it on! Given that Underground is commonly used to mean hidden/ secret, it's a push for them to claim it!
sosusie: I do not get how London Underground can force the change of name of @msmarmitelover's The Underground Restaurant??? It's RIDICULOUS. aargh.
Ppparkaboy@MsMarmitelover what? For real? What confusion? Do you have an LU logo outside, barriers at the door and a long escalator to the tables?
HubUK RT @MsMarmitelover: It's getting to the point that I'm terrified to open the post.>>>> Are you sure MI5 aren't on your case? Hard to believe we_are_stardust@MsMarmitelover The only person any confusion could be detrimental to is you. I think everyone knows that!!
HubUK@MsMarmitelover They surely can't restrict the use of the word underground. Contact Boris - sure he would put pompous jobs worths in place
SimonMagusRT @MsMarmitelover: got a letter from London Undergrounds solicitors.'... <- you're not a brand you're a fucking railway SirTerence@MsMarmitelover We'd better let them know about these people too...
SirTerence@MsMarmitelover and these... (it's all madness and they don't have an underground shoe to stand on)
Lotteduncan@MsMarmitelover No confusion as far as I can see. People have great time at yours and are miserable as hell on the London Underground!
TrishDeseine@MsMarmitelover Unbelievable. How dare they lay their petty blinkered claim to an adjective.
scandilicious@MsMarmitelover the tube is trying to shut you down? Seriously, do they have sole rights over the word "Underground"? Absurd.
SimonMagus Copyright, patents and bloody lawyers... (for @msmarmitelover)
jamescousins:Norman Collier is suing LU over Colliers Wood too RT @MsMarmitelover Got letter from LU lawyers 'confusion could arise'
moorjoy@MsMarmitelover maybe point out that the brand more likely to be adversely affected is yours?
DJStoney@MsMarmitelover Get Paul Weller to rename and rewrite The Jam hit 'Going Underground', it's clearly breaking trademark law
AJ_Scroxton RT @LDN & various, TFL lawyers after @MsMarmiteLover for daring to use word 'underground' > I for one often confuse meals with tube trains.
WHampstead It's the Wombles I'm worried about. They go Underground AND Overground! (@MsMarmitelover)
Red_Eyes@MsMarmitelover Tell them to get over it and/or sod off! They are trying it on. Or, rename to: "I can't believe it's not The Underground!"
mrjfirth@msmarmitelover You could go with "Subway"...
misswhiplash @MsMarmitelover It's not like you're opening up a rival subterranean tram system....
(Well funny she should say that...)
ZebuSimonRose@MsMarmiteLover When Harrods sued a Mr. Harrod in New Zealand, whole town changed name to Harrodsville. Need something to shame them to stop
ZebuSimonRose@MsMarmitelover told by London Underground to change name of Underground Restaurant. Let's sing this ditty in support

And finally....originalfoots@MsMarmitelover The cheek of people thinking that they can hold the rights to ordinary words! Underground belongs to us, it's our word 9:54 PM Nov 19th


  1. I had to delete the post and repost it as I think it was interfering with the feed.
    Here are all the comments from before:

    Anon:What a joke!

    ornette ( has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    Ironically, this whole debacle is infinitely more damaging to London Underground's "brand" than the fact that there exists a restaurant whose name contains one of the words contained in the phrase "London Underground".

    Love the video.

    Anon: MsMarmitelover: @LambshankRdmptn any veggie pies?How come I don't get invited to any of these restaurant openings?
    because you're a cunt and nobody wants you ?
    just a guess.

    foodrambler has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    I thought your LT trademark row was just a joke born from the whole Warner Bros thing and have only just realised that it's not! This is truly insane.

    Rebecca has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    This is embarrassing. London Underground should be ashamed of themselves. I wonder if there is a sarcastic pun you can add on to the name of your existing restaurant to satisfy their requirements yet make them look even more silly at the same time!

  2. JamaGenie has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    Ditto on "It's not a BRAND, it's a railroad"! Actually (on the days it runs) PUBLIC transportation.

    LT's legal department should be downsized and the millions saved applied to improving the SERVICE its CUSTOMERS are paying for, namely getting from Point A to Point B in a timely manner.

    Get it?

    James has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    What if you set up the restaurant in the underground? On a tube train like the amusing Youtube vid that was going around some time ago. There wouldn't be a problem with your landlord then either. Oh and less clearing up!

    @anonymous - have you got a name?

    Surely the underground get worst publicity from this than if they left it alone?

    EssexGourmet has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    I'm always interested in bashing the big boys who swing their hefty weight around...

    A quick look at the Companies House site shows there are multiple businesses using the name 'Underground,' many of which are food related.

    Perhaps LU's quibble is in the use of the trademark. Would registering 'The Underground Restaurant' as a business with companies house eliminate this I wonder??

    Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    Just what is wrong with you?

    You clearly have authority issues, but why does everything become an instant pugnacious legal battle and a blogging rant even when right is not on your side - your lease, Warner Brothers, infringement of copyright ...

    Can't you just accept that you have to operate within the law, like everyone else in business?

    If you want legal protection - become a limited company, register a trademark, get a licence, pay some tax ...

    The Curious Cat has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    Yikes, just catching up on all of this - it is pretty ridiculous...I bet they just did this for the free publicity on your site!!! I feel like letters like this are a clamp down on freedom...argh! I don't know what to say...I think it is petty of them really...seriously, seriously petty...So what have they asked you to do? Change it?

    The Curious Cat has left a new comment on your post "Trademarking the underground":

    PS Whoever wrote those mean comments anonymously has no backbone to show who they really are and must have inner issues - why such spite?! It doesn't say anything about just suggests that they are not very nice people...and if they don't like this blog then can go take a long walk off a short pier and piss off! Excuse my french but seriously...if you haven't got something nice to say, don't say it at isn't appreciated...


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