All Blacks, Liver Birds, Trademarks and Fair Use

The Cornish All Blacks, a League Two rugby team founded in 1948 in the post-War austerity years obtained matching kits by dying various coloured shirts to a uniform and easily standardized shade of black or by recycling air-raid curtains.

To protect their IP, and to the ire of the Kiwi national squad, they have filed to trademark their name. Obviously they cannot get sole rights to use of the words Cornish, All, Black, Blacks or indeed “All Blacks”, but with qualifier of “Cornish All Blacks” and no danger of confusion with the New Zealanders, is there good reason to prevent them using the name? registering the name?

Picture of the New Zealand All-Blacks

A not unrelated issue has come to light, in that Liverpool FC are trying to trademark the Liver-bird, the logo that appears on their badge. [liverpool.bmp]

The Liverpool football team badge, reproduced above, is presumably registerably as a trademark to the football club when taken as a whole.  The individual elements thereof are not. The abbreviation ‘est’ and the date 1892 lack distinctiveness, a does a ribbon with white edging. The gateway background is fairly boring and the fleur de lis on both sides of the gate are so common in heraldry, that one would assume that they are generic, although pretenders to the House of France may dissagree.

The famous Liver-bird reproduced below, is the emblem of the City of Liverpool and thus lcal Everton fans probably have fair use rights as well!


I don’t imagine the city wants to prevent Liverpool from using the birdie but why shouldn’t local traders be able to reproduce it? Use it for their bakeries, scout packs, petrol stations and supermarket chains?

The BBC had a series in the Seventies called the Liver-birds that I remember fondly. I think it warped into Man about the House, which itself spawned Robin’s Nest and George and Mildred.

Categories: News, trademarks

4 replies

  1. Last I heard, the liver bird trademark application was abandoned due to public outcry.

  2. Yes, they have dropped the case.

    The football team is probably the most famous thing associated with the city – excluding the Beatles, but they are (a) historical and not actual (b) not as well associated with the city as the football team.

  3. Hey, great, this is top notch stuff, keep up the good work.Bye Bye

  4. Cool blog! Keep us the good work!

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