Handbags at dawn between Radley and Poundworld?
The Times recently reported that handbag / leathergoods maker
Radley had commenced High Court proceedings against discount
retailer Poundworld over one of the latter's products.
Radley's bags feature a small leather tag in the shape of a
small dog (a West Highland terrier or similar). It appears that the
Poundworld product to which they have taken objection is a bag
which is decorated with around a dozen dog images.
Radley are concerned that the Poundworld bags will lead to harm
being done to the image of their products, while a Poundworld
spokesperson has indicated that questions over details of design
are common in the retail world, and that they are working to
achieve an amicable resolution to the matter.
Radley appear to have a number of Registered Trade Marks for
their "Scottie Dog" (some including the name Radley, some not)
though the precise legal basis for their claim against Poundworld
has not been made clear by the reports which have so far
Proving any sort of "confusion" when discount retailers are
involved can be difficult since Judges find it difficult to believe
(not unreasonably, perhaps) that - in this case - a customer would
genuinely think that they were buying the luxury brand's product
(or even one endorsed by them) for £1.
However, if Radley have been able to rely in their pleadings on
s.10(3) of the Trade Marks Act which protects marks which enjoy a
particularly high level of established reputation (which a Claimant
has to plead and support with evidence), then they may find their
task somewhat easier, since this sort of claim does not require
proof of confusion, merely evidence that the Defendant is "taking
unfair advantage" or "acting to the detriment" of the reputation of
the established mark without good reason.
This was certainly an argument that we ran on behalf of our
client The Saucy Fish Company in 2014 in a well-reported dispute
with Aldi Stores Limited
can be a powerful tool, demonstrating the value of investing money
in the development of a brand and its reputation.
We'll be keeping an eye on how the Radley and Poundworld issue
develops, and in particular whether it sheds any more light on the
protection that intellectual property rights can afford brands with
a premium product against "me too" competition from discount
Posted on: 01/06/2017
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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