David beats Goliath: UK High Court Bentley trademark dispute

A small, Manchester based clothing company has won its High Court case against the luxury car manufacturer, Bentley Motors for using its name on a range of clothing.

Bentley Clothing, founded in 1962, has owned the associated trademark since the early 1980s. Bentley Motors first started selling a UK range of clothing bearing the name in 1987. Bentley Clothing approached the Volkswagen owned car firm in 1998, in order to establish a licence agreement for Bentley’s use of the trademark. Instead the car manufacturer made failed attempts to cancel the clothing company’s trademark. In turn, the clothing company instigated proceedings before the UK High Court for infringement of its trademark.

UK High Court Judge, Richard Hacon, ruled in favour of the clothing company. In his decision Hacon wrote, ‘’ My impression of Bentley Motors’ policy is… consistent with an intent to clear away Bentley Clothing’s right to protect the Bentley mark for clothing and headgear and ultimately to extinguish Bentley Clothing’s right altogether.” The car manufacturer has been ordered to pay costs to Bentley Clothing. They also have to destroy all infringing products or deliver them to Bentley Clothing to be destroyed.

Bentley Clothing’s director, Christopher Lees said, ‘’ I could either let Volkswagen-owned Bentley Motors take from us what had been my families since 1990 or spend 15 years and our life-savings fighting them.” He added that the case has been ‘’ ruinous, financially and emotionally, and today’s decision is a huge relief.”

This case demonstrates the power that trademarks have to protect the rights of the holder, even when it is a small company against a large corporation. Our solicitors at Lawdit can assist you If you have a trademark you wish to register, or a trademark related dispute.

Written by Samuel Killoran who is a law student at Solent University.

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