By royal appointment: IP rights implications of the coronation

On 30th April 2013 the coronation of Prince Willem Alexander took place in Amsterdam. As well as being an occasion of national celebration, this event is of particular interest as the royal House of Orange and IP rights are closely entwined.

Patents as a royal favour
Historically, in most countries a patent was a favour granted by the king or queen to a citizen or a company, not an exclusive right intended to protect a new product, method or new technology as it is now. For instance, the Dutch East India Company obtained a patent (monopoly) to conduct sea trade in the area east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Strait of Magellan. Another example of how the royal family and IP rights are connected is the fact that the first patent law became effective in 1817 under King Willem I.

Succession inspires the business community
The Dutch royal family is very popular in the Netherlands. Since Queen Beatrix announced her abdication on 28th January 2013, media attention has grown exponentially and companies have been trying to profit from this. For instance, the guildhall in Amsterdam launched a blue delft decorative plate in commemoration of Queen Beatrix’s reign, while Royal Leerdam Crystal issued an orange King Willem Alexander vase in honour of the succession.

The succession to the throne has also been a great source of inspiration for frivolous marketing. Beer brewer Bavaria, well known for its humorous commercials with famous actors such as Charlie Sheen and Mickey Rourke, has been referring to the prince’s reputation as a beer lover by replacing the throne with a bar stool in one of its advertisements. In its advertising campaign peppermint company King, well known in the Netherlands, temporarily changed its name from "King" to "Alex" (the nickname of the new king).

Royal names as a trademark
News about the royal family also affects trademark registration and protection. After the public learned that the prince had a new girlfriend, dozens of trademark registrations using her name, Maxima, were applied for. After the name of the newborn crown princess was announced, Amalia became an extremely popular trademark. The mark AMALIA has since been registered for, among other things, plants, cutlery and insurance. Shortly after announcing the prince’s succession to the throne, at least three Benelux device marks were applied for containing the element KINGSDAY.

Creative efforts royally rewarded
Advertising agencies, companies and trademark holders that turn the coronation to their advantage can seriously benefit from the festivities – even more so if they manage to protect the results of their creative efforts properly through IP rights.

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of IAM's co-published content. Read more on Insight

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