Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Picture: AP Photo.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Picture: AP Photo.

Bizarre twist in Sussex legal threat

Harry and Meghan's attempt to trademark their Sussex Royal brand had been blocked after an alleged complaint from a British doctor living in Melbourne.

But in a bizarre twist the man named in the complaint, Benjamin Worcester, has claimed an impostor lodged the bid and the notice has now been withdrawn from the UK Government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had been keen to use the name to launch their foundation and make money from branded goods including hoodies and postcards.

The Queen has yet to decide whether they can still use the "royal" part of their name - which could be worth billions.

 

'MY REASONING IS PERSONAL'

When approached for comment by The Sun Online about his complaint, Dr Worcester reportedly said he had a "personal" reason to lodge the objection against the proposals.

When asked for more details about his problem with the royals, Dr Worcester allegedly refused to clarify, stating: "My reasoning is personal and not for public consumption."

But in a bizarre twist, just hours later, the medic claimed an impostor had lodged the bid.

In response the IPO said on Friday that they had been informed the notice was being withdrawn, citing Dr Worcester's impostor claims.

It told The Sun Online in a statement: "The IPO has been advised by an individual that their personal details have been used without their permission to submit a 'Notice of threatened opposition' to the Sussex Royal trade mark.

"While we are unable to discuss the specifics of trade mark applications, we are able to advise that we are in the process of rescinding this notice."

This astonishing reversal means Harry and Meghan's trademark application can now go ahead - providing no other complaints are lodged.

The doctor's sudden denial comes after he confirmed to both The Sun Online and trade site World Trademark Review that he was behind the objection notice.

Hours later, his family also flip-flopped over whether he was involved.

His brother Ammiel, of Salford, Manchester eventually claimed "it must be a mix up".

Speaking from his doorstep, the told The Sun Online: "I've been in touch with my brother and he insists it's not him."

 

'NOTICE OF THREATENED OPPOSITION'

Documents at the IPO showed that a formal 'notice of threatened opposition' has been registered this week.

The notice was sent on Tuesday and meant Harry and Meghan could have had to shell out in lawyers fees and other costs to get the right to use the name in the UK.

After registering a trademark, there is a period of 'opposition', when anyone against its use is first allowed to make this known and has the effect of extending the time before the trademark can be used.

It gives opponents the time to mount a case against its use, although they may decide not to object.

The period of opposition for Harry and Meghan's application was due to end on February 20, but that period could have had to be extended until at least March 20.

An Australian doctor has filed the complaint. It is not known why. Picture: AP Photo.
An Australian doctor has filed the complaint. It is not known why. Picture: AP Photo.

'COULD TAKE A YEAR'

Lee Curtis, a chartered trademark lawyer and partner at specialist law firm HGF, said: "Filing a notice of threatened opposition is relatively easy and can be done online for free.

"The filing of a formal notice of opposition is much more involved.

"Right now, the threatened opposition delays the progress of the Sussex Royal application by at least one month, but if a formal opposition is ultimately mounted, this will involve the payment of an opposition fee, the drafting of formal grounds of opposition and the filing of evidence and legal submissions in support of the opposition.

"The whole opposition could take at least a year to get to a decision and is thus not an action entered into lightly with a possible costs award against the losing party."

Meghan and Harry were previously reported to have trademarked 100 items including pencils and socks six months ago in their bid to become financially independent.

Meghan and Harry are fighting to keep the ‘Sussex Royal’ branding central to their social media presence. Picture: AP Photo.
Meghan and Harry are fighting to keep the ‘Sussex Royal’ branding central to their social media presence. Picture: AP Photo.

 

The couple agreed to drop their HRH titles and pay back the $4.6 million spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home as part of the deal to quit the Royal Family.

Experts predicted they could rake in millions in commercial deals while still pocketing $3.8 million a year from Prince Charles.

However Charles has urged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle not to profit from their Royal titles with strict rules expected on branding.

 

 

Parts of this article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission



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