Trademark Tussle Brews over Popular Phrase “Up The Wahs”

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A fervor is building across the country, as the nationally popularized phrase “Up The Wahs” becomes the center of a trademark dispute between Good George Brewing and the Warriors.

Late in August, Good George Brewing, officially recognized as Somerset Brewing Company Limited, initiated a filing to trademark the term for their beer and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as, alcoholic beverages, fruit drinks, syrups and other related preparations. The brewery had previously launched a limited-edition lager under the name, which was promptly sold out, prompting a second batch due to high demand.

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However, shortly over a week later, New Zealand Warriors also followed up with their application for the coveted term, albeit, their Chief Executive professed ignorance of the brewery’s prior application. The Warriors sought to register the term under various categories including clothing, footwear, headgear alongside games and playthings, gymnastic and sporting articles, advertising, retail & business services, education, entertainment, cultural & sporting activities.

The brewing company’s director revealed his surprise on hearing about the sports team’s application and expressed a desire to collaborate with the Warriors. The director emphasized the impressive demand and support for the product led by the staunch and loyal Warrior fans.

Meanwhile, in an interesting twist into this trade mark tussle, intellectual property lawyer Paul Johns informed that given the brewery’s earlier initiation, their application will be reviewed first. While there’s a feasible possibility of acceptance, he recommended the Warriors to opt for the trademark registration in the other categories instead. In case of the Warriors’ insistence on the challenged categories, they could split their application into two parts – the challenged and the non-challenged, and then consider opposing the brewery’s application.

Johns elucidated the examination process explaining that the Intellectual Property Office will ensure that both applications conform to the regulatory prerequisites and are aptly put forth. He anticipates that “Up the Wahs” will find some purpose, but he doubts about anyone using it as a trademark.

Should Good George’s application pass the examination, it will be published in the Trade Mark Journal, thereby affording a formal notice of the office’s intention to grant the trademark. A three-month window will be provided in case anyone wishes to oppose the application, culminating in a year long tug of war.

Further, in this complex world of trade marks, Johns suggests that without specifics, it is challenging to provide further advice, but he strongly emphasizes precaution to businesses when considering branding, logos or images that could breach the rights of others, without prior approval.