“Wagatha Christie” trade mark attempt brings Rooney v Vardy back off the bench

Thrings intellectual property wagatha christie IP

An application to trade mark the term “Wagatha Christie” has brought the pun back into circulation, as well as the discussion on what can and can’t be reserved for use.

Claimed to have originally been coined by comedian Dan Atkinson, the pun relates to the high-profile feud between Vardy and her Nemesis Coleen Rooney, wives of former England footballers Jamie and Wayne respectively, after Rooney ‘deduced’ in 2019 that Vardy had been leaking private stories about her to the press.

The saga came to a head in October 2022 when Vardy unsuccessfully sued Rooney for libel, with the former reportedly being ordered to pay 90% of Rooney’s legal fees – estimated to stand at around £1.5million, and it was expected at that point that the Curtain had been drawn on the matter.

As The Clocks turn forward, it has now emerged that London Entertainment Inc Ltd, we understand on behalf of Vardy, has applied to register the term as a trade mark, showcasing Vardy’s (or at least her management’s) creativity in finding a financial positive to the fiasco, as this means any usage of the term by others, in relation to the array of goods and services covered by the application, would require her permission and financial compensation.

But while the trade mark application has now been formally listed by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), it has been opposed by Welspun UK Limited (potentially on behalf of Rooney or another Secret Adversary). The UKIPO’s records show that the matter is still ‘awaiting defence’, meaning the ball is now in Vardy’s half and she needs to make her case for the trademark’s approval.

The celebrity trade mark

Ingenious deductions, public disputes and attempts to shoehorn in Agatha Christie titles aside, this latest development highlights the possibility for trade marks to be taken out on more than just the stereotypical company names and product lines but also tag lines.

This is by no means the first case of a celebrity trade marking an unspecific phrase, with rapper Drake having tried to seize the rights to “God’s Plan” in 2018, relating to one of his songs, and Donald Trump attempting to trade mark “You’re fired” following his stint on The Apprentice – both received criticism and ultimately failed.

Singer Mariah Carey event attempted to trade mark the title “Queen of Christmas” for use on a range of goods from music and live performances to fragrances, clothing and jewellery and even ranges of food and drink – but this has since been abandoned.

One of the most notable successes in trade marking a phrase by a celebrity, however, was socialite Paris Hilton’s catchphrase “That’s Hot”, which became a popular phrase after her time on reality TV show The Simple Life.

Megan Jefferies from the Thrings Intellectual Property Team said: “This latest development in the Wagatha Christie saga has really brought to light the fact that many different things can be trademarked, regardless of the content’s origin. Rebekah Vardy’s attempt is unlikely to be the last time we see a celebrity try to trademark a tagline, but it is interesting to see in this instance, a case where it is both not created by her and, in a way, one that was created at her expense".

“Realistically, this could have been seized on by Coleen Rooney, given the phrase is about her, or even Dan Atkinson as the presumed creator of the pun, but by Vardy making the most of the financial opportunity, it has demonstrated creativity in making light of the very public spat.”

Thrings’ Intellectual Property Team is experienced in safeguarding brands and trademarks from infringement and has successfully advised multinational organisations on a range of matters from IP disputes, including copyright infringement, and trademark registration to managing diverse portfolios and worldwide expansions. To find out how they can help protect your IP rights, click here.

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