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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Cambridge University Trademarks Miffs Neurotech Firm

A legal row is brewing over the rights to the name "Cambridge," away from its colleges and cobbled streets.

How far will Cambridge University go to protect its intellectual property?

Ben Schofield asked in a story filed for BBC News how far Cambridge University can go to protect its intellectual property.

Tahl Holtzman applied to trademark the name of his company, Cambridge NeuroTech, in 2017. He thought the process would "be a breeze" and waited for a window for objections to close.

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But, "On the very last day – five minutes to midnight," he was told of opposition from "the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge." Holtzman says the 18-month legal battle cost his company £30,000, after which it was allowed to register a trademark for goods but not services.

"Cambridge NeuroTech" was, he adds, "the most natural choice" of name for a company that designs equipment for neuroscience research.

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"I'm based in Cambridge, and 'neurotech' is an abbreviation for neurotechnology," he says. "I wasn't going to call it 'Oxford NeuroTech.'"

Tahl Holtzman's company was eventually allowed to register a trademark in one class but not another. "It's quite bizarre for any entity to claim they own a geographical location," says Holtzman, 45. "It's sort of a Lords-and-peasants kind of situation where 'I'm the Lord of this – I own Cambridge.'"

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