Dame Vera Lynn wins trademark battle

A gin company has been ordered to pay Dame Vera Lynn £1,800 in legal costs after it was determined that it could not trademark the singer's name for use with a new product.

Halewood International applied to register the trademark "Vera Lynn" due to its recognition as cockney rhyming slang for gin in June last year.

Dame Vera opposed the trademark on the basis that the usage of her name, which the 102-year-old has been using as an unregistered trademark for music and charity work since 1939, could be considered an endorsement of the product.

The We'll Meet Again singer's legal team told trademark hearing officer Al Skilton "(Dame Vera) is an extremely well-known singer and performer whose musical recordings and performances have been popular since the Second World War.

Dame Vera in her younger days
Dame Vera in her younger days

"She is also very well-known for her charity work, including with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer.

"Well-known personalities are known to endorse products, there will inevitably be confusion that the opponent has endorsed the applicant's products."

The drinks firm argued that there would be no confusion as Dame Vera is more well-known to the product's audience as a cockney rhyming term than as a singer.

A portrait of the singer was projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover to celebrate her 100th birthday
A portrait of the singer was projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover to celebrate her 100th birthday

However Ms Skilton ultimately found in favour of Dame Vera, ruling that "the applicant ... has failed to provide any evidence of the level of understanding of cockney rhyming slang in the UK, or anything to illustrate the level of awareness of the term Vera Lynn with reference to gin.

"The evidence falls a long way short of showing that the relevant public for alcoholic beverages will, on encountering 'Vera Lynn', see it as a rhyming slang reference for gin, rather than bringing to mind the entertainer Vera Lynn, who has been in the entertainment business for 84 years."

Halewood International may still appeal the decision.