‘Lawyer X’: the enigma, the scandal and now… the trade mark?

In 2014, the Herald Sun broke the explosive story of an unnamed barrister moonlighting as a police informer. She was dubbed ‘Lawyer X’ and soon became Australia’s most infamous barrister. Shortly after her identity was recently revealed, it was announced that Foxtel and News Corp Australia had commissioned a drama mini-series titled ‘Lawyer X: The story of Informer 3838’. They may, however, hit a road bump in promoting the show…

Earlier this month, a Melbourne law firm and two of its employees applied to register LAWYER X as a trade mark in relation to film and television in class 9. The application, it appears, was not made on behalf of a client.

While it remains to be seen how the firm intends to use the mark – they may, for example, intend to use, or authorise the use of, the mark in relation to film or television – it is not the first trade mark application filed over a headline term.

Within just days of the Malaysia Airlines MH370 and MH17 tragedies, opportunistic bids were made to register MH370 and MH17 in relation to the production of films in class 41. Both marks were rejected by IP Australia. In the case of the MH370, it was rejected under s 41, not being inherently adapted to distinguish the Applicant’s services from similar services of other traders. The hearing officer found it unnecessary to consider the ground for rejection under section 42(a), which relates to scandalous marks.

Other grounds of opposition relevant to speculative trade mark applications include that the applicant is not intending to use the mark (s 59) and the application was made in bad faith (s 62A). Opportunistic filers have their work cut out for them.

Alexis Keating - Lawyer

Alexis Keating, Former POF Attorney

LLB (Hons), BSc, (MIPLaw)

Alexis is an intellectual property (IP) lawyer and registered trade marks attorney. She practises across the full scope of IP rights, including both contentious and non-contentious matters.