Interior Designs: Is space the final trade mark frontier?

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Sometime after I’d piloted Wagamama to victory against the awful Rajamama copycat Indian-themed restaurant, my late friend Paul O’Farrell, who was the COO, asked whether we could get additional trade mark protection by seeking to register the interior of the restaurant (the law having changed considerably a little over two years earlier to include non-traditional trade marks). In fact, BP had registered a trade mark that depicted a typical garage forecourt with the colour green applied to certain aspects of it, but it was actually just a colour mark, and not an attempt to trade mark the three-dimensional physicality of the gas station itself.

I was aware that someone (I forget who now) had sought to register the interior of a restaurant, the description of which had been written more like a patent claim than an interior design brief. It ‘claimed’ an interior of a restaurant ‘comprising’ various features, ranging from chequered tablecloths, fisherman’s nets strung from the ceiling, articles from the sea like driftwood (and probably the odd dead starfish), and a key feature of business cards being tacked to a wall board.

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