Will Morrisons bring the Safeway brand back?
The large chain of supermarkets, Morrisons announced on the 22nd of November a plan to bring back the Safeway brand by creating a variety of products for sale to independent retailers. In 2004 the chain of supermarkets merged with Safeway supermarkets in a £3 billion deal.
Morrisons are aiming to give customers access to good quality products provided to them by independent retailers. The chief executive within his announcement said that they are hoping to make their products more available by restoring this brand. Trademark lawyers however think that this might not be possible due to trade mark law issues.
To begin with Adrian Smith, partner at Simmons & Simmons, says that this will be an interesting change as until now most of the well-known brands which ‘died’ after a period of time were not revived by any business. In this case, Morrisons have kept the trademark registration for this brand since the 2004 merge; however, there is no knowledge of whether or not there were any issues regarding the validity of these registrations raised by third parties. Additionally, it was mentioned that another thing of vital importance which needs to be considered is the value that will be assigned to the goodwill of the brand. Would it have the same goodwill as it had when the brand disappeared or would it be different now?
Moreover, Iain Connor, partner at Pinsent Masons, said that although the brand has been kept alive through registrations it is still possible for it to be revoked due to non-use since it has been more than five years since the rebranding and during that period there details of its use are not known. In Connor’s opinion if Morrisons did not make sure that the brand is used even if not as a store-front then this could lead to the revocation of the mark.
By Dimitra Angelopoulou