February 2018. EasyGroup, known to most people as the parent company of the airline easyJet, has suffered two painful defeats in the UK. In January it failed to halt the registration of the trade mark EasyRoommate. Then in February it launched an abortive attack on an application to register the word Easysail.
EasyGroup has pulled out all the stops to lay an exclusive claim to the word ‘easy’ in relation to many products and services. As a result, it’s compiled an impressive family of ‘easy’ trademarks, from car hire companies and pizza delivery firms to dog-walking services. Anything, in fact, as long as it it’s ‘easy’. Most of these trademarks are also registered as word or device marks.
Easy = Simple
In 2006, EasyGroup even succeeded in registering ‘easy’ as a stand-alone word for a large number of services in the EU. But it hasn’t managed to get a foot in the door with the UK Intellectual Property Office. The problem is that the word ‘easy’ has little or no distinctive capacity. It simply means ‘not difficult’ or ‘simple’, according to the IPO. Which isn’t enough to block the registration of EasyRoommate and EasySail.
Why register ‘easy’ at all?
You may wonder what the added value is of registering ‘easy’ as a European word mark if you can’t stop the registration of other ‘easy’-based trademarks like EasyRoommate or EasySail. Or perhaps ‘easy’ should never have been registered as a word mark in the first place, given the strict rules regarding distinctive capacity?