Associated Newspapers’ bid to trademark the names MetroExpress and Metro Express is the latest twist in its long-running feud with Express owner Richard Desmond.
It comes just weeks after Express Newspapers lost £300,000 in legal costs after Associated won a High Court injunction stopping Desmond from calling his proposed London free daily the Evening Mail. However, this later development looks unlikely to end in similar legal acrimony.
An Express spokesman said the paper had no plans to mount a challenge to the trademark bid. He said: “We are delighted that Associated has recognised the brand strength of the Express name.” Associated has declined to comment on the matter.
The names MetroExpress and Metro Express were advertised in the UK Patent Office Trade Marks Journal on 6 June. Express Newspapers has three months to oppose the move.
Intellectual property lawyer Bill Moodie, from Herbert Smith, said: “It sounds to me to be businesses squabbling over names just to irritate each other. The application stage of a trademark is not that significant. Even when it is registered people can oppose marks – it’s just good work for lawyers by the sounds of it.”
Desmond announced plans for a London evening freesheet in November 2002. No date has been set for the launch of the title. It would be in competition with Associated’s Evening Standard and Metro.