The Reform Club is applying for a trademark in an effort to protect its historic image as a haven for the liberal élite.
The opulent establishment in Pall Mall, central London has been forced into the vulgar step of embracing modern trade laws to prevent inferior imitations of its merchandise.
If the application is successful, the 170-year-old club will be able to prosecute anyone caught selling its eclectic range of goods which include clothing, confectionery, jam, chutney, biscuits and alcohol. Cuff links, tie pins, dress studs and cravats are also listed by the club as items which may not be copied. A spokesman for the Reform Club said: "I'm not aware that anyone has tried to pass themselves off as the Reform Club before. This is just a precautionary measure. You can never tell when you need protection. You don't wait until you've had trouble because then it's too late. Anticipation is the name of the game."
The Reform Club, which was established in the 19th century for liberals who helped draft the Reform Act, has earned a reputation as a pioneer in clubland, most of whose institutions are considered resistant to change. It became the first Pall Mall club to admit women to full membership, more than 20 years ago. Its members include Lord Hattersley and the Mori poll chairman, Bob Worcester, and it was famously the place where, in the novel Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Phileas Fogg declared his intentions.
The club, at 104 Pall Mall, is an imposing stone building designed by the architect Charles Barry. A grand winding staircase is the centrepiece of its impressive interior.
If the application is successful, the trademark may be used as a marketing tool, although, in common with other gentlemen's clubs in Pall Mall and St James's, the Reform is likely to preserve its mystique. It remains "members only".