St Andrews Links Trust have failed in their efforts to Register the Town’s name as a trade mark for their golf enterprises in the town. The EU General Court heard an appeal by the company against a decision of the European Intellectual Property Office not to grant registration, but in December the Court ruled against the Links Trust.
The proposal of the Links Trusts to trademark the Town’s name was condemned by a number of local firms when it was first mooted in 2012, and a private members golf club proposed for Feddinch on the outskirts of the town appeared to remove St Andrews from its title by the threat of legal action. However, after many years and multiple planning applications, the Feddinch site remains as neglected farmland.
The reasoning of the EU Court was based on the existing use of the St Andrews title by a number of existing golf related enterprises, which could be presumed to include the St Andrews Bay Hotel and its associated golf courses.
There is an assumption both in UK and EU law that geographical names should not be used as trademarks, unless the there is a distinctive acquired link in the public mind between a particular product and a specific location, such as in the case of some single malt whiskies.