Richard Branson Opposes Virgins

Bloomberg Businessweek examines the (perhaps overly) zealous trademark enforcement efforts of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in a piece published today.  The company apparently takes a rather expansive view of the scope of its trademark rights, and has opposed or delayed at least sixty-four trademark applications in the U.S. since 2012, “taking on craft breweries, romance novelists, and a host of companies and nonprofits whose products and services don’t obviously overlap with those of the multinational giant.”  According to a company spokesman, Virgin Group does not engage in “the aggressive pursuit of overbroad claims of trademark infringement," but “does take legal action in accordance with trademark laws around the world to protect and preserve the value of the Virgin brand where necessary.”

However, as Mike Atkins, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, states, “Opposing trademark registrations in unrelated fields is the classic behavior of a trademark bully… Virgin is a very diverse company, and they may be wanting to prevent others from occupying market segments where they don’t do business yet, but may do business in the future… But if they’re not competing in that market now, they don’t have any reasonable basis to prevent others to go to market.”  Unfortunately for the company’s targets, Virgin Group may be relying on the time-tested legal theory of might makes right in its attempts to carve out a wide space for its own marks.  Read the full article here.


Reposted from Bloomberg Businessweek.