November 2018. In case you were thinking of selling dog food under the name Gucci, calling a new detergent FedEx or marketing a candy bar as Sony, forget it! Before you know it you’ll be locking horns with the owners of all these well-known brands. Even if there’s no product overlap, it’s very likely you’ll be the loser. Strong brands are given extensive trademark protection, including beyond their own product category.

No trademark registration

One organisation that recently fell foul of this in the UK was Just Enough Programme Ltd, which markets e-cigarettes. This British company had the ill-conceived idea of calling its new e-cigarette Nivea. On 11 September the UK Intellectual Property Office refused to register it as a trademark.

Trademark application for the Nivea e-cigarette


The older-established Nivea brand enjoys widespread reputation, so consumers would automatically assume there was a link between the Nivea e-cigarette and the eponymous face cream, which would damage the older trademark, the IPO ruled. What’s more, Nivea is supporting a campaign run by Cancer Research UK to raise awareness of the effects of skin cancer, which would sit ill with a company selling e-cigarettes under the same name.