A long-running trademark battle between a luxury carmaker and a small, family-owned business has finally ended, with Bentley Clothing prevailing over Bentley Motors.
In a decision by the High Court in London, it was deemed that the luxury car manufacturer infringed the trademarks owned by Brandlogic, the Manchester-based company that owns Bentley Clothing.
How Did the Dispute Start?
The dispute started in 1998 when Brandlogic first approached Bentley Motors about the trademark. The car manufacturer was selling a limited collection of their clothing bearing a B-in-wings logo.
Periodic discussions during the year did not produce favourable results for both parties. The luxury car manufacturer expanded its clothing range and started using the “Bentley” name in addition to their logo.
Since then, the two companies had been involved in trademark registry proceedings over who owns the name “Bentley” for clothing and headgear in both the UK and the EU.
A Trademark Infringement or Honest Concurrent Use?
According to UK laws, a registered trademark is infringed when the offending party, without the registered owner’s consent, uses an identical sign (a logo or a name) for their products despite a possibility of confusion by consumers.
Brandlogic pledged that they had been selling clothes since 1962, preceding the carmaker’s clothing business. They alleged that Bentley Motors had told their licensees that the B-in-wings logo and the name “Bentley” must always be used together, infringing the clothing firm’s registered trademark.
Bentley Motors used the defence of honest concurrent use, by which they would not have been liable for trademark infringement since their company and Bentley Clothing have co-existed for a long period, honestly using similar or closely similar marks.
The car manufacturer tried to cancel the clothing company’s trademark rights at the UK Intellectual Property Office but was unsuccessful.
Brakes on Bentley Motor’s Clothing Line
In the decision, the High Court held that Bentley Motors infringed on Bentley Clothing’s registered trademarks. The court noted that the B-in-wings logo would cause a recall of the name “Bentley” in the consumer’s mind, giving rise to the possibility of confusion between Bentley Motors’ and Bentley Clothing’s marks.
The car manufacturing company was also found to have deliberately increased the prominence of its logo despite being approached by Brandlogic.
The ruling by the High Court means that Bentley Motors can no longer use its name on their own branded clothing range in the UK. The luxury car manufacturer must pay damages and may be forced to destroy their stock of branded clothing or hand the items over to Brandlogic.
Bentley Motors said they were “extremely disappointed” by the decision and it would consider filing an appeal.
On the other hand, one of the directors of Brandlogic said they were “relieved” by the decision. They hoped the ruling would allow them to expand the Bentley Clothing brand, which they claimed has been financially affected by the legal battle.
Protect Your Brand by Trademark Registration with Pinnacle TMS
The Bentley case is an excellent example of how brands are significantly protected with a registered trademark, when done properly, even if they are up against a well-known organisation.
Take the headache out of protecting your brand with Pinnacle TMS’ trademark registration and renewal service. We simplify the process and give you expert advice on how to go forward with your registration.
Book a consultation with us by filling out our form or calling us on +(61) 2 9520 4366.