7 JULY 1939, Page 24


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR]

Sra,—Your journal, and others similar to it, and a large number of daily newspapers have been made aware of the opposition which is being felt to the proposal to give official recognition under the Companies Acts to the followers of Dr. Buchman in their appropriation of the words "Oxford Group " to indicate themselves.

We desire to add the voice of our federation to such opposi- tion, and to introduce a fresh ground of objection based on somewhat more technical arguments. We hope that an accumulation of reasoned opposition may cause those re- sponsible for the application, and those to whom it is made, including the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, to recon- sider their proposal, and to abandon any idea of monopolising such an inaccurate and misleading title as " Oxford Group "- a title which, maybe, is able to be understood as descriptively identifying to those within the movement, but obviously a description completely inadequate for any purpose of identifi- cation by those outside the movement. And in appropriating a title of this kind for registration in the Companies Register, it is the latter identification which should be regarded, particu- larly so if the word "Limited " is to be omitted.

This federation is a federation of responsible traders who are the owners of valuable trade marks, and well able to appreciate both their use by honest traders and their misuse by unscrupulous persons.

Section 9 of the Trade Marks Act, 1938, permits the registration as a trade mark of a word which, according to its ordinary signification, is a geographical name, upon evidence of distinctiveness' of the word in respect of the goods for which registration is desired. But at the same time it is properly laid down in Section I r of the Act that it shall not be lawful to register as a trade mark any matter the use of which would, by reason of its being likely to deceive the public or cause confusion or otherwise, be disentitled to protection in a court of justice, or would be contrary to law or morality. Under the Trade Marks Act a geographical name is on occasion registered in respect of goods having their origin in the place named by the word, but in no circumstances is it permissible to register as a trade mark a word which, according to its ordinary signification, is 'a geographical name, in respect of goods not originating in the place named by the word. The members of the Council of this Federation would feel considerable indignation if official recognition should be given to an ethical standard adopted under the Companes Act by a religious sect, which falls below that applied under the Trade Marks Act, and accepted by all honest traders.

They feel sure that this aspect of the question will be new to the responsible officials of the " Group," and that it should be brought to their notice. With this object in view we intend to send a copy of this letter to the Group, and to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, and are inviting a conference with our Council to discuss the question.—Yours faithfully,


President (Secretary, Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited). WILLIAM S. JARRATT Secretary (formerly Registrar of Trade Marks). Trade Marks, Patents and Designs Federation, Limited, 169 Bank Chambers, 329 High Holborn, W.C. z.