Earlier this month, Rebecca Vardy announced that she had obtained a registered trade mark for WAGATHA CHRISTIE. Comedian Dan Atkinson claims to have first coined that name in an October 2019 tweet referencing the libel claim brought by Vardy against the social media comments of Coleen Rooney. Rooney was able to successfully defend the claim, it being held that Rooney’s posts were substantially true, see our previous article here.
The WAG acronym combined with the name of the renowned mystery novelist, was an apt and amusing description used widely in mainstream media reports of the trial. Notably, the term has been used again for the West End show centred around the dispute ‘Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial’. The producers of that show were reported to be considering whether a name change was required in light of the announcement.
The case is a reminder of the, often crucial, interplay between copyright and trade mark rights, and between different intellectual property and related rights more generally, in the media sector. Material too short to obtain copyright protection, or indeed older material now out of copyright, might still be protected (at least in part) as a trade mark, both registered and unregistered. Although, of course, the scope and length of legal protection that each right provide differs. See our recent article on public domain copyright here.