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Town vs Gown: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Cambridge's Name

Written By Georgina Taylor Trade Mark Attorney

Beyond the colleges and cobbled streets of Cambridge, a local business has found itself entangled in a dispute with the University of Cambridge.

Tahl Holtzman faced a challenge he did not expect when attempting to register a trade mark to protect the name of his company, Cambridge NeuroTech.

The University opposed his application, citing potential harm to its brand and long-standing reputation in various fields of technology, research, and innovation.

Mr Holtzman says the 18-month legal battle cost his company substantial legal costs, after which he was allowed to register a trade mark for goods but not services.

The ongoing debate invites reflection on the balance between the University protecting intellectual property rights and fostering a supportive environment for local businesses.

The dispute also sheds light on the complexities of filing trade marks and underlines the need for businesses to perform adequate due diligence ahead of investing significantly in a company or product name. Given that the University has previously opposed many other trade mark applications that included the word Cambridge within their name, it is unsurprising that legal hurdles were encountered during the trade mark application process for Cambridge NeuroTech.

A final takeaway is that business owners should strive to adopt and protect distinctive and non-descriptive trade marks. In addition to usually being more memorable to consumers and providing flexibility for business growth, unique and non-descriptive trade marks often have legal advantages, such as being less likely to clash with existing trade marks in the market and being easier to enforce in the event of an infringement from a third party.

If you would like advice on the best ways to come up with distinctive trade marks for your business and products or want to protect a brand name, feel free to reach out. We're here to guide you through the intricacies of trade mark law and help your business thrive.

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