Hawking plans to trade mark name

The world’s best known theoretical physicist is seeking to trade mark his own name.

Professor Stephen Hawking has submitted an application to the Intellectual Property Office seeking to trade mark his name in five of 45 possible classes. Among the goods and services covered by the classes are computer software and hardware, computer games, electric vehicles, charitable fundraising services, research and development in the fields of physics, mathematics, cosmology and technology and medical services.

He joins a growing list of celebrities who have trade marked their names, giving them legal protection if their names are then used on counterfeit items or to promote or endorse items to which they have no connection.

A spokesman at Cambridge University, where Professor Hawking is research director at a research centre within the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, said his decision was a personal one but that he had “taken measures to protect his name and the success it has brought.”

Fellow scientist Professor Brian Cox has already trade marked his name, as have former footballer David Beckham and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

While trade marking a person’s name is still relatively rare, business trade marks are a key tool to distinguish one firm’s goods and services from another, by instantly conveying a message about the brand to consumers and other interested parties.

Although there is no legal obligation to register a trade mark, not doing so could make a business vulnerable to passing off, defined in law as falsely presenting something in a way likely to make someone believe the goods or services they are buying were produced by someone else.

Palmers’ intellectual property specialists can provide expert advice on the appropriate class or classes for trade mark applications and assist with registrations of both UK and EU marks.

We can also assist with ongoing trade mark issues, including renewals, and advise on passing off issues. For more information, please visit our website or contact BJ Chong or Matthew Johnson.