The team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge, Stephen Jones, Mathilde Parvis, and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo, Hayleigh Bosher, Tian Lu and Cecilia Sbrolli.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Willow Tea Rooms: A tale of tea and trade marks Part 1

"It's always time for tea"
This kitten writes from the Netherlands, a land of many things from bitterballan to bicycles but one thing she is yet to find here is a decent cup of tea! As a tea fanatic she was intrigued by the case of the Willow Tea Rooms.

Anne Mulhern ran the Willow Tea Rooms since 1983 at 119-121 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Scotland. The building was designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903 with Kate Cranston, famous for her tea rooms. Ms Mulhern restored the unit as a Tea Room in 1983 which quickly became one of the most famous tearooms in Glasgow. Mulhern filed trade marks for Willow and The Willow Team Rooms.

The building was acquired by the Willow Tea Rooms Trust in 2014 who closed it for a £10m two-year refurbishment. In the meantime Ms Mulhern temporarily moved her business to the third floor of the Watt Bros department store.

However, the Willow Tea Rooms Trust then attempted to register a trade mark “The Willow Tea Rooms” for a new business at the building based on the historic significance of Miss Cranston’s Willow Tea Rooms. Sauchiehall Street is significant in the development of the name since "Sauchiehall" is derived from "saugh", the Scottish word for a willow tree.

The Willow Tea Rooms
Mulhern opposed the mark on the basis that she had a similar existing trade mark and a reputation among a known class of people. As she told the Herald Scotland: “there is no reason whatsoever for the trust to be allowed to hijack my trademark The Willow Tea Rooms to give the building a name, nor for it to allege that my trademark, which I have worked long and hard to develop, is somehow associated with the building that houses one branch of my Willow Tea Rooms and not my tea room business.”

Yesterday, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found in favour of Ms Mulhern and a 73-page ruling on the dispute will be published next week. [Part 2 to follow]. 

In the meantime, the Willow Tea Rooms Trust has 28 days to appeal against the ruling but a spokesman for the trust reportedly said that they accept the decision.

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