Trade marks may theoretically last forever but brands are subject to change. The Aunt Jemima brand of pancake mix and syrup will be renamed Pearl Milling Company, in response to concerns about racial stereotypes. The new brand harks back to the name of the originator of the self-rising pancake max and was announced by Quaker Oats (part of PepsiCo) on 10 February 2021. The Aunt Jemima brand, like the Washington Redskins, is being retired following the global attention that was
With IP worth 75% of a business’ value why do less than 13% of businesses have IP insurance?
It’s fascinating to read the insurance industry’s perspective on this phenomenon: Protecting Intellectual Property in the new world order. I find insurance (& third party funding) essential in many disputes. In most cases, this is "After the Event" or ATE insurance.
Matthew Hogg and Edward Cartwright's article makes a great point that many people forget: you may assume that you have
It’s a sad consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns in many countries that retailers have lost business, and regrettably some have gone into administration. But one thing that’s been notable in many cases is that the brands have proved attractive to buyers, even when the rest of the business has not. For example, Marks & Spencer recently bought the Jaeger fashion brand for an undisclosed fee after the company went into administration. It did not acquire any of t
Dr Martens, the footwear and clothing brand that defined my teens, is launching an initial public offering (IPO) which could value the company at £3.7 billion! The company is currently majority owned by Permira (the UK private equity firm). One reason behind this high valuation is that it is a fashion brand that truly recognises the value of its IP (even if it famously once failed to secure the copyright in its logo - see below!).* It sells 11 million pairs of boots and shoes
Mr Justice Miles’s judgment in Lyle & Scott Limited v American Eagle Outfitters, Inc is an important decision for international fashion brands. The two companies use very similar eagle logos (pictured) for clothing that is sold through similar marketplaces in the UK and internationally. Lyle & Scott (L&S) is a long-standing British high-end fashion brand. It historically made golf clothes but by 2019 around half of its sales were polo shirts and T-shirts which are sold throu
There is no doubt that we are living through an unstable time. The pandemic has changed daily life for everyone. Politics are far from stable – this impacts many things, not least international trade. The origins of established brands are coming under the microscope. The economic good times (such as they were in the wake of the global financial crisis) are over. With recession set as the new normal, it is clear that things will be in flux for a long time to come. It is hard t
Are arbitration clauses a good idea? This post is not going to resolve this longstanding debate but it will highlight some of the intended (and unintended) consequences of an arbitration clause. The use of arbitration clauses in trade mark coexistence agreements was recently considered by the UK's IP Enterprise Court (IPEC) in Lifestyle Equities CV & Anor v Hornby Street (MCR) Ltd & Ors. Lifestyle Equities owns six EUTMs and one UKTM (post Brexit that is 7 UKTMs) for BEVERLEY
Is help coming to tackle the scourge of counterfeits sold on online marketplaces? Counterfeit goods affect all businesses as they grow from fashion to merchandise and related goods. On 15 December 2020, the European Commission published its “Europe fit for the digital age” proposals: the Digital Services Act (the DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) . If adopted, they will replace the eCommerce Directive, which was introduced 20 years ago. DSA obligations The DSA is particularl
A case regarding “ballet flats” is likely the last time in which a UK court will sit as a Community Design Court, and the judgment was handed down expeditiously given the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. The case involved registered Community designs (RCDs) and unregistered Community designs (UCDs), and issues of both validity and infringement. Deputy High Court Judge David Stone found: both the registered and unregistered design to be valid as they pr
You take a famous car company with a well known trade mark, say Ferrari, and decide that you can get an entirely new revenue stream licensing this mark for use on FMCG products such as clothing. It is a roaring success! Competitors look at this success and think - great idea! Let's copy it... but not all of them clear their rights first. The following is a cautionary tale in more ways than one. I was in charge of this case from its start until well into the disclosure phase.
Scott Gilen (Director of IP Enforcement Global at Apple) spoke at the Luxury Law Summit about how his team stops Apple fakes (both digital and physical) around the world. Understandably, their primary focus is on counterfeits that could be harmful to consumers such as fake iPhones, parts and accessories. Fake Apple stores remain a problem around the world (particularly in China). They have everything from the T-shirts to the tables! The issues that Scott has to deal with go b
Bentley Clothing v Bentley Motors  EWHC 2925 is a classic David v Goliath dispute. You have a small family owned business versus a multinational corporation - Bentley Motors is part of Volkswagen. This case is a helpful reminder for large brand holders everywhere that establishing a reputation and a trade mark portfolio in relation to some goods and services does not give you an automatic right to enter into new markets where there are earlier rightsholders (no matter t
Trade marks give you the exclusive right to use a particular "sign" in your business for particular goods and services. They can potentially last forever provided that you keep using the trade mark and keep paying fees to the relevant intellectual property office. What is a sign? A sign is anything which distinguishes one business from other business. Commonly this is a word or a logo but in Europe, it can be anything provided it can be recorded in some form of permanent medi
This post is about the legal issues you need to consider when selecting a new brand name and logo. This is primarily a question of trade mark law. There are three main things to consider: Does it meet the criteria for a trade mark? Has anyone else registered it as a trade mark first? Will it pose any problems for me in the future? Trade marks must be distinctive and not generic descriptions of the products sold. As post-modern as a hat brand called HAT may be - you are very u
Without intellectual property rights it would be virtually impossible for the European fashion industry to continue. These rights enable a business to compete knowing that it has a legal monopoly which protects the time and money it has invested into the brand. Although the European fashion industry by no means avoids counterfeits and close copies of their products, intellectual property rights enable businesses to protect their products and enforce these rights in all releva