In a recent ruling, a Los Angeles federal court stated that Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd, producers of the “Peaky Blinders” TV show, are unable to oppose the trade mark “Peaky Blinder” used by Birmingham-based brewery for their liquor and beer. The Peaky Blinders series is set in 19th century Birmingham, focusing on a gang called the Peaky Blinders. It first aired in the UK back in 2014, while Sadler’s began selling their alcoholic beverages with the almost identical name in 2017. In the same year, Sadler’s applied for a US trade mark, however, Manbach sent a warning letter in 2018.
The trade mark battle began last November when Mandabach sued Sadler’s for the Peaky Blinder name, used for their gin, whiskey, rum and dark beer, as they feared consumer confusion would arise due to an assumed affiliation between the two companies. In their defence, the brewery stated that they utilised the name due to its historical connection with the gang, adding that a former owner was a descendent of one of the gang members.
The producer’s preliminary injunction was rejected after they failed to make the “clear showing” required for such ruling, namely demonstrating that the highly similar name would cause confusion amongst consumers. Moreover, the production company did not illustrate that the alleged confusion was likely to be of irreparable harm to the TV show’s reputation.
Additionally, US district Judge Consuelo Marshall, found that Mandabach did not prove that they had protectable interests in their unregistered trade mark, as their use of “Peaky Blinders” is “likely descriptive or suggestive of a television show regarding a group of persons named the Peaky Blinders”. Therefore, the show’s choice of such a historical name is one of the reasons for their failure to obtain the injunction.
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