Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

A far fetched argument

A far fetched argument

Published: 04.07.11 at 14:34

A recent case heard in the High Court last week provides an interesting example of trade mark infringement (but perhaps not the strongest argument against!). The case concerned the US airline United Airlines, and a lesser known Bangladeshi airline trading as United Airways. United Airlines claimed that United Airways was both passing off and infringing its UNITED and UNITED AIRLINES trade marks.

Under English trade mark law, a person infringes a trade mark if he uses the same name in relation to identical or similar services, or if he uses a similar name in relation to identical or similar services and there is a likelihood of confusion existing in the minds of the consumer as to the origin of the services being provided. For more information see - Somebody has copied my name: what should I do?

The court held that as the differences in the two names were so insignificant, the average consumer may well consider United Airways to be a subsidiary of United Airlines. The two marks were therefore sufficiently similar.

United Airways argued that the services they offered were not the same as they operated on different routes and that there would be no danger of confusion as consumers could do their own research if need be.

Both these arguments were rejected and United Airways were ordered to change their brand and repeat their aircraft within 35 days.

Credit to IPKat and Airline Reporter for that story.

Photograph (some rights reserved) by FatMandy

 

Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.

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