22. Numerals

Date Published

Numerals fall within the definition of a sign. Numerals and combinations of numerals are commonly used in many fields to indicate size, quantity, quality, address number, telephone number, date, date of production (e.g. 2000), model or batch number.

Where the numerals have a meaning within the market for the relevant goods/services, or are likely to be seen as indicating any of the aforementioned characteristics, it is likely that other traders, without any improper motive, will desire to use them and therefore they will not be inherently adapted to distinguish one trader's goods or services from those of others.  In such cases a ground for rejection under section 41 will be appropriate.

A word spelling out the number or numerals will normally be treated in the same manner as the numeral representation of the number. This was confirmed in Re Appn by David Fraser McManamey (1989) 16 IPR 582 (ROARING FORTIES) and in a UK Registry decision, 2000 Two Thousand trade mark [1992] 4 RPC 65, which refused registration of the trade mark 2000 TWO THOUSAND. In the latter decision it was observed at 67 that ‘the number 2000 is particularly non-distinctive and laudatory because it is increasingly seen as indicating the approaching new millennium’.