A NEW application by Oxford University to trademark the word ‘Oxford’ on more than a hundred products from stickers and pencils to DVDs and even bibles has sparked concern.

Makers of maps, tickets, newspapers, journals and 122 other goods could potentially be left with a bill for using the word ‘Oxford’ in the wrong way if the application is approved.

The bid for exclusive use of the city’s name has been made by Oxford University Press, a division of the university, and unless there is formal opposition is likely to become active within three months.

The company said it had submitted the application as a 'precautionary step' in response to 'ongoing uncertainty around Brexit'.

Formally, the trade mark will not necessarily jeopardise the rights to use ‘Oxford’ in print or on products, but in the case of a legal dispute over usage it would come down to a 'reasonable view' as to whether there was any confusion with the TM owners.

Despite that, some have raised alarm about the application, saying that a protection over ‘Oxford’ in favour of the university’s usage could widen the centuries-old 'town and gown' divide.

Oxford city councillor Roz Smith said: “Oxford is not just 'gown', it’s town and, in our case, city.

“It could divide the town. Are they going to raise the age-old argument of town and gown?

“I’m proud to be representing a city and I don’t want to see a divide.

“What will this do for the Oxford Mail? For Oxford Brookes University?”

If the plans are granted by the government's Intellectual Property Office, the trade mark will be valid for 10 years.

One employee at the university who asked to remain anonymous contacted the Oxford Mail to raise the alarm and said: “I can’t believe they are trying to trade mark my city’s name.”

The official applicant ‘The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford, trading as Oxford University Press’ is already the owner of four other registered trademarks – as well as three that are under examination and pre-publication.

These include images of shields registered in 1982 with the Latin words ‘Dominus Iluminatio Mea’ meaning ‘The Lord is my light’ and a logo with Oxford printed – which is filed with the disclaimer that the ‘registration of this mark shall give no right to the exclusive use of the word ‘Oxford’.’

A trade mark slightly differs from a copy right, which is an automatic right granted typically exclusively to creative words like music or paintings.

Oxford University Press first submitted its application for more than 100 products in March this year under three classifications, however a change to the online application meant it was re-filed on Monday.

Intellectual Property Offices Worldwide, including in the UK, uses a trade mark classification system that groups together similar goods or services.

Oxford University Press applied for class 9 – commuters and scientific devices, class 16 – paper goods, and 41 which is education and entertainment services.

Once a trade mark is officially approved, Oxford University Press will be able to take legal action against any company which uses the ‘brand’ without permission, including counterfeiters.

It will also be able to sell and licence the trade mark brand Oxford – all for the cost of a £270 application.

Arun Prasad, manager of Oxford Connect in Cornmarket Street which sells Oxford University hoodies, phone covers and Harry Potter mugs, said: “I sell a lot of official Oxford University merchandise - I don’t think that would be affected.

“I do also sell one or two souvenir items which just display the word ‘Oxford’ but if there was a problem with these then I would simply return them to my supplier.

“I’m not too worried at the moment - we will wait and see what happens.”

In a statement a spokesperson at Oxford University Press said: “Oxford University Press (OUP) is more than 500 years old, and we have had ‘Oxford’ registered as a trade mark for our products and services in the UK since 1994, and across Europe since 2000.

“We have filed an additional trade mark application in the UK for the same products and services where we use the word ‘Oxford’.”

They added: “This is a precautionary technical step, in response to the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit.

“This will help us protect the work we do to achieve our mission—furthering the University’s objectives of excellence in research, scholarship and education.”