The term ‘Ramsay Pharmacy’ has been approved as a trade mark by a privately-owned subsidiary company of Ramsay Health Care, after first being refused three years ago
Ramsay Health Care Investments Pty Limited initially applied to register the trade mark for the words ‘Ramsay Pharmacy’ back in August 2016.
According to Ramsay Health Care Limited’s Annual Report 2018-19, Ramsay Health Care Investments is a private subsidiary 100% owned by Ramsay Health Care Limited.
The application covers pharmacy retail services; wholesaling and retailing of pharmaceutical substances; pharmacy services; pharmacy advisory services; and pharmacy dispensary services among others.
While the words “Ramsay Pharmacy” alone had not been trademarked before, Ramsay Health Care Limited successfully registered the words Ramsay Pharmacy alongside a device constituting a logo in 2012 (see main image).
That mark, according to Ramsay Health Care CEO Peter Giannopoulos, has been used since 2013/14 in 40 dispensaries within hospitals owned by the applicant (named as Ramsay Health Care Investments) and in 60 retail pharmacies franchised by the applicant.
Further related marks are registered by the company with the name “Ramsay” as their formative element, used across the company’s healthcare network.
However the initial application by Ramsay Health Care Investments in 2016 for the name “Ramsay Pharmacy” was refused on two grounds.
Firstly, that the name Ramsay appears 2854 times on the Australian electoral roll – the examiner contended that other traders with this surname should be able to use “Ramsay” in connection with similar goods or services.
Secondly, Ramsay refers to locations in Queensland and South Australia, and the examiner was of the view that use of the trade mark would indicate that services were provided at a pharmacy in the location of Ramsay, Queensland or South Australia.
Over the past year, Ramsay Health Care Investments filed further submissions with evidence of its use of trade mark by way of a declaration from Mr Giannopoulos.
The applicant’s submission pointed out that “the provision of pharmacy services is limited to pharmacists registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.
“The majority of registered pharmacists, that being said, are not owners of pharmacies who trade in pharmacy services as such but are instead only employed by such businesses … It follows that there are significant barriers to entry for suitably qualified traders, being, the regulatory framework and start-up costs associated with this type of enterprise”.
Hearing Officer Debrett Lyons, from the Australian Trade Marks Office, found that the relationship between Ramsay Health Care Investments’ core private hospital business and that of the provision of the pharmacy and other services applied for is “an intimate one”.
Lyons also dismissed the ground for rejection regarding “Ramsay” as a place name – pointing out that the town in Queensland has a population of 310, and in South Australia it is the name of an electorate but no suburbs are named “Ramsay”.
Mr Giannopoulos provided further evidence that the trade mark has been used across a wide network of pharmacies and and exhibits an array of pharmacy store signage, stationery items and catalogues which show the words “Ramsay Pharmacy”.
“I see that a good deal of this material uses a logo or design element in addition to the words,” found Lyons.
“When I take correct balance of the use, the degree to which the words themselves show some inherent adaptation to distinguish the Services, and the weight of the Applicant’s very closely allied core business under ‘Ramsay’-formative marks, I find that the Trade Mark should be registered,” Lyons found on 30 January 2020, adding that this finding is subject to an endorsement that the provisions of s 41(4) were applied.