UK college has its case thrown out by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court

The background

  • CCC is a state secondary school based in Hounslow, West London that was established in 1975.
  • CCL is a privately owned college that offers courses for students over 16 and has been in existence since 2010.

The similarities causing confusion:

  • Both educational establishments use birds in their logos.
  • CCC uses a crane.
  • CCL uses a pigeon.
  • Both use blue writing.
  • The educational establishments are located within 800 meters of each other.

Despite the similarities in the logos the claim issued by CCC was not concerned with the design of the logo, CCC instead sought a declaration that CCL’s trademarks were invalid and that its company name, domain names and trademarks were “instruments of deception”.

CCC complained:

  • The words “Cranford College” were distinctive of its educational services in west London and so CCC owned the goodwill associated with these words.
  • Any use of the CC name was a misrepresentation resulting in damage to them.
  • The registered trademarks owned by the rival and the domain names, should be assigned to them.

The judgement

Judge Richard Hacon stated that in order to back the claims up CCC must demonstrate that it had acquired a secondary meaning amongst the relevant public (in that it only referred to CCC and would not be taken to refer to any other educational establishment).

The judgement also referred to statements from staff who commented that while the school was usually referred to as Cranford College it was never referred to as just ‘Cranford’.

The judge commented therefore that the first element of passing off (Goodwill) had not been established and further stated:

“I do not believe that there has been or that there is any likelihood of a misrepresentation by CCL, or that CCC owns the goodwill of a nature such that a misrepresentation could arise, I therefore dismiss the action”.


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