Edinburgh tourist shops lose legal battle over Harry Potter merchandise

Gold Brothers shop Heritage Of Scotland . Picture: Greg MacVean
Gold Brothers shop Heritage Of Scotland . Picture: Greg MacVean
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A chain of Scots tourist shops has lost a legal battle with entertainment giants Warner Bros over Harry Potter-themed merchandise.

The Edinburgh-based Gold Brothers empire, which runs a string of souvenir stores, wanted to trademark the term ‘World of Wizardry’ for shops which sell goods inspired by writer JK Rowling’s creations.

They applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to register the name to sell “confectionery, games, clothing, clothing accessories and toys.”

However, lawyers for the film studio, who own the rights to the Harry Potter trademarks, sent letters to the company asking them to stop passing off their products as licensed merchandise.

Warner Bros lodged a challenge to the trademark application with the IPO and the matter was to be decided at a legal hearing.

However, Gold Brothers director Lully Gold, who made the application, failed to file evidence in time and the movie giants have now succeeded in having the trademark bid abandoned.

Mr Gold was ordered to pay them £700 in legal costs.

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Trademark hearing officer Mark Williams said he was not prepared to give the Edinburgh company more time to fight the claim after they failed to provide sufficient information for the delay.

He added: “The opponent argued that ‘the on-going delay in keeping the mark alive is continually causing prejudice to the opponent’ as the opponent’s solicitors have, in previous correspondence between the parties, informed the applicant of its objections to their trading and that the opponent has raised potential trademark infringement and passing off.

“My decision is to uphold the registry’s preliminary view and confirm that the trademark application is treated as abandoned.”

Warner Bros and Rowling already own a trademark called ‘JK Rowling’s Wizarding World’ - the brand name for the Harry Potter book and film franchise - and the Florida-based theme park is called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Their lawyers were set to argue that the ‘World of Wizardry’ name was too similar to theirs and could lead to confusion.

The ruling means Gold Brothers will have to apply to Warner Bros for official permission to use the name and sell merchandise related to the Potter films and books.

The family firm run a number of shops on and around the Royal Mile selling tartan and other Scottish-themed gifts.

No one from Gold Brothers was available for comment.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros launched a crackdown on local fan festivals, saying it was necessary to halt unauthorised commercial activity.

They contacted one fan group in May, letting it know new guidelines prohibit the use of any names, places or objects from the Harry Potter books and films.