I do love a David versus Goliath confrontation, and we experienced that ourselves at Downing IP when we represented the Monster Pizza Company last year. In another story that hit the news recently, Bentley Motors (the car company you have probably heard of) lost a landmark case against Manchester based Bentley Clothing (the fashion brand you might not have heard of) in a dispute about Bentley branded clothing.
A high court judge ruled that Bentley Motors will no longer be able to use “Bentley” on its clothing range in the UK. Bentley Motors may yet appeal against the decision but in the meantime is restricted to applying the name “Bentley” to jackets, silk ties, caps and scarves and will not be allowed to sell other types of clothing or head gear. At the moment, their website rather apologetically says “Sorry, there are no products in this collection”.
The High Court action has been in process since 2017, with the dispute ongoing since Bentley Clothing first approached Bentley Motors in 1998. Bentley Clothing registered a trade mark for the name Bentley in 1982 and Bentley Motors began selling its own branded clothing range in 1987.
What this case does show is that, as I have always advocated, if you file your trade mark applications (and patent applications) early, and do it correctly, then you are well prepared for the scenario where a large corporate player challenges your position.
With Christmas fast approaching, one of our Downing IP elves looked into the archives on the UK IPO website and found a quirky Christmas video celebrating the 12 days of Christmas and warning of the dangers of fake goods. If you have a spare 3 minutes then do watch the video.
Whilst this has been produced in a humorous way, there is, of course, a serious side to this message. Fraudsters do sell fake goods using the intellectual property of legitimate businesses, to make a profit. These fraudsters don't care about meeting safety standards and they certainly don’t care about ruining your Christmas. So do laugh and heed the warning at the same time!
The IPO does offer help on how to recognise IP crime and infringement here.
All that remains is for myself and the Downing IP team to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year for 2020.