As you may or not be aware it is possible to register a slogan as a trade mark.

What brought this to mind in the last few days is the fact that we here in Ireland have just had a General Election and unlike many other countries in Europe we do not have many restrictions on the use of election posters.

This has resulted in the dubious pleasure of seeing the faces of the various candidates in my constituency beaming (in most case) or staring (in all cases) down at me from various lampposts and any other places where the candidates’ team could manage to hang their posters over the past few weeks. (As an aside, airbrushing I now know is not restricted to the covers of fashion magazines!) Most of the posters also had slogans on them as the different parties try to grab the attention of the electorate.

A slogan can be registered if it fulfils the criteria and function of a trade mark; namely that it should be distinctive and it shouldn’t be descriptive of the goods or services it is used for.

We had the following by way of examples:

Fine Gael (out going government party)  – “A Future to Look Forward To”

Fine Fail (main opposition party – propping up the government in a confidence agreement arrangement) – “An Ireland for All”

Labour Party – “Decency. Justice. Equality”  and “Building An Equal Society”

Sinn Fein – (surprise winners of the popular vote in terms of first preference votes in this election) – “A Time For Change”

None of the above slogans would inspire me to hire their team to come up with a distinctive slogan if I was looking for such a person but that’s just me.

Remember, if you are looking to devise a slogan to register as a trade mark and to help promote your goods or services, always try to choose one that helps distinguish your goods or services from those of your competitors.

In the case of most of the parties seeking election last week perhaps the problem was that there is little or nothing to distinguish one party from the other, so the slogan would never fulfil the function of a trade mark anyway. But again that’s just my opinion. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Peter MacLachlan