Will Specsavers’ “Should’ve” Patent Cause Brands A Marketing Headache?

by Duncan MacRae

The monopoly of the word could “make life extremely difficult for rivals,” lawyers warn.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has approved Specsavers’ application to trademark the use of “should’ve” and “shouldve”.

The slogan “should’ve gone to Specsavers” has long been used in the British optical retail chain’s advertising campaigns.

Unless any objections are successfully raised with IPO prior to an October 12 deadline, other organisations will be unable to use the words in their own marketing campaigns.

One trademarks lawyer told The Telegraph she was extremely surprised IPO has approved the application.

Tania Clark, a lawyer at legal firm Withers and Rogers, describes it as “astonishing,” adding that Specsavers will now “have a very powerful monopoly in this word, which is a verb in common usage.”

She adds that the trademark will cover a wide range of uses. “It’s very broad as the patent refers to printed matter, which could relate to gift cards and retail services,” she explains.

“While such registrations are not impossible to obtain – as this decision demonstrates – it means that the retailer could soon have the right to exclude others from using the word ‘should’ve’ or ‘shouldve’ when communicating about certain classes of goods, including optician services, medical hearing aids and eyewear.

“This monopoly right could make life extremely difficult for rivals.”