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Confused? You will be… e… e!Confused? You will be… e… e!

» Posted on: 26 January 2015

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High Court Judgment in Enterprise Holdings, Inc v Europcar Group UK Limited

Judgment has recently been handed down by Arnold J on the case where Enterprise Holdings (the owner of several trademarks, including the one on the left) made a claim for Community Trade Mark infringement and passing off against Europcar Group.

enterprise and europcar logos

Europcar had used the logo on the right above since its re-brand in December 2012 in three ways, on its own, as part of its secondary brands and in combination with the word Europcar and often the strapline “Moving your way”.

The Court found for Enterprise and said that there was a likelihood of confusion in relation to all three categories of use of the Europcar logo. The claim for passing off also succeeded.

An important point in this Judgment was that a preliminary issue was raised as to whether the relevant public (by whom the mark must be known to have the required reputation) could include residents of a foreign country where the service to which the trademark is applied was carried out in the UK. As it was said that the vehicle market had a strong transnational character, it would be wrong to exclude consumers resident abroad from the relevant public in the UK albeit the foreign-based part of the relevant public should be treated with some caution.

The Court took into account both survey and witness evidence and found that there was a likelihood of confusion on the part of the average consumer as a result even of the second and third parts of the use of the Europcar mark. However, the Court found no intention by Europcar to take unfair advantage of Enterprise’s CTM and (unlike in the case of Jack Wills Limited v House of Fraser Stores Limited heard by the same Judge) rejected the argument that use of the logo had the objective effect of enabling Europcar to benefit from the reputation and goodwill of Enterprise’s CTM.

This is an interesting case, particularly as the Court found that a Claimant could rely on the deception of foreign customers who were resident abroad and in particular where they became aware of the Claimant’s business and trademark in their home country yet came across the Europcar logo in this country.

For guidance on trademark registration and how best to protect your Intellectual Property against unfair competition and passing off, contact Tony Catterall, Head of the Intellectual Property Team at Taylors, on 01254 297900 or via email at tony.catterall@taylors.co.uk

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