Tesco Goes Stationery Shopping

Tesco has purchased the brand and intellectual property of the renowned and international stationery supplier Paperchase. Establishing itself in the United Kingdom, Paperchase expanded by opening stores in Europe, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, reaching a total of 106 stores worldwide. However, Tesco have not opted to save these physical stores, deciding to only acquire the Paperchase brand. This move is an indication of the investment value in intellectual property.

Paperchase were bought out of administration in 2021 in an attempted rescue deal after being one of many brands facing financial struggles with rising costs and falling sales. However, after being sold again in 2022, the company have failed to find their feet and Begbies Traynor, a firm specialising in corporate rescue and recovery, were brought in by Paperchase to oversee their insolvency.

Although the brand of Paperchase has now been bought by Tesco, the failure to include the 106 Paperchase stores in the deal has put the stores at risk of closure with numerous employee jobs at risk. The decision has come after Tesco announced that they would sell the branded goods in their own stores across the UK.

The commercial value of Trade Marks

Trade marks are a symbol of the identity of a business. The name, logo, symbol, design and even shape or sound can help identify your products or services. Memorable trade marks can distinguish your business from others and help you stand out from the crowd. Thus, ensuring that your identity is protected under trade mark laws is vital.

It is not a legal requirement to register your businesses name and brand as a trade marks, it is a voluntary choice. However, protecting your brand through registering trade marks can deter rival businesses from using similar designs and styles. Failing to protect your brand in advance of a dispute can cause unnecessary challenges. A brand owner protecting an unregistered trade mark in a dispute may have to rely on other legal means, for example the common law protection of passing off which is notoriously expensive and time-consuming.

Although a trade mark protects your business against competition by preventing rival companies from using your work for profit, trade marks also add value to a business as seen in Tesco’s purchase of Paperchase. Potential investors are interested in what trade mark protection a business has for its name, key products and services. Commercially, on top of providing security and clarity, trade marks also increase in value over time as the business becomes more established. The more that a business expands with registered trade marks, the more valuable they become, especially to potential investors.

Expanding your Business with Protected Trade Marks

Following the completion of the transition period on 31 December 2020, EU trade marks are no longer protected in the UK. However, existing EU trade marks were given a UK comparable for protection.

If you are a UK business trading in the EU and wish to protect your brand both in the UK and throughout the EU, you will need to file separate applications. You will also need to be represented within the EU by a professional representative which is either:

  • A legal practitioner qualified in one of the member states and having their place of business within the European Economic Area, provided that, in their member state, they are allowed to act before the national IP office; or
  • A Professional representative whose name appears on a special list of the EUIPO.

At Berry Smith, we can assist on a range of matters relating to trade marks, ensuring that your business has vital and necessary protection over its branding. We are also able to assist with the application of UK trade marks, and work closely with partners in the EU who are able to assist our clients with any EU requirements.

If you have any queries or need any assistance relating to trade marks, please do not hesitate to contact us at commercial@berrysmith.com or on 029 2034 5511.