Chocolatier flexes its trade mark muscles over mediaeval exhibitionist

Residents of the town of Coventry have waded into an emerging trade mark dispute between Belgian chocolatier Godiva, and an English pub in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Belgian company, which makes luxury chocolates branded with the name of the famously naked mediaeval equestrian beneath a tasteful embossed silhouette of her image, has a number of registered  trade marks including several for the word Godiva in a range of different classes of goods and services.

In Geneva, meanwhile, Mr Glen Simons who owns the Lady Godiva pub, has revealed that he has now received a number of letters from lawyers acting for the chocolate maker, including most recently a Cease & Desist letter, requiring him to refrain from using the name for his business. He has expressed surprise at the stance being taken by the Belgian company and has said he intends to fight any claim that they may make against him, contesting the basis upon which they can enforce a trade mark monopoly against his business which he says has nothing to do with making or selling chocolates.

"Lady Godiva Café) have sided with Mr Simons, objecting to the attempt by a successful commercial entity to monopolise for profit the identity of one of their City's most famous historical (or legendary?) figures, particularly when Lady Godiva herself was reputed to have made her bold ride through the streets in protest against high taxes levied on ordinary people by her husband, Lord Leofric.

It may be, however, that Mr Simons will have a fight on his hands, since one of the registrations owned by the Belgian company appears to include a designation for "Restaurant, bar, coffee shop, café, catering and snack bar services; services for providing food and drink."

The Belgian company, meanwhile, has sought to reassure anxious residents and businesses in Coventry and has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement to the effect that it has no plans to pursue any businesses in the City for infringement of its trade marks, saying that its threatened action against Mr Simons' business in Geneva is a "narrow" one resulting from that they say is branding for his pub which is confusingly similar to that which it uses for its own Godiva shops and café outlets.

Whether and to what extent such a statement might operate to be effective consent for any and all businesses currently operating in Coventry under the Godiva name is perhaps going to be an interesting legal question should the chocolatier ever have a change of heart!

Posted on: 24/10/2014

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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