Could US dating website Plentyoffish stop UK “Plenty More trade mark registration that is fish?

Written Osborne Clarke on 07 Nov 2011

US internet dating that is website launched in 2001. British competitor “Plenty More Fish” set up in 2006 plus in 2007 filed to join up a seafood logo in addition to expressed words PLENTY MORE FISH as A british trade mark. The united states site compared, but made it happen have grounds? Miah Ramanathan reports the verdict.

Topic: Companies

Who: Plentyoffish Media Inc, the plenty and claimant More LLP, the defendant.

Exactly What xmatch,com took place:

An effort with A united states based website that is dating have the enrollment of an identical brand name with a uk company declared invalid on grounds of passing down failed in the tall Court as the United States web site would not have clients in the united kingdom.


The defendant started an on-line agency that is dating 2006 and registered a figurative trade mark including the words «PLENTYMOREFISH» for agency online dating services in class 45 in October 2007 (the «Trade Mark»). In October 2008, the claimant, whom since 2001 had additionally operated an on-line agency that is dating overseas underneath the title PLENTYOFFISH, presented a credit card applicatoin to your UK Intellectual Property workplace for a statement of invalidity according regarding the Trade Mark under section 5(4)(a) for the Trade Mark Act 1994 (the «TMA»).

The program had been regarding the foundation that the Trade Mark constituted an infringement for the claimant’s typical legislation liberties in moving down. Section 5(4)(a) of this TMA provides that a trade mark shall never be registered if its use within great britain would otherwise be prevented under any guideline of legislation (in specific what the law states of moving down) protecting an unregistered trade mark or indication from getting used for the duration of trade.

The Registrar dismissed the claimant’s application in February 2011 in the basis that there have been no grounds for the statement of invalidity desired due to the fact claimant had neglected to offer evidence so it had supplied services that are dating clients in the united kingdom and as a consequence created goodwill in the united kingdom as at April 2007 (the date associated with the defendant’s application for the Trade Mark). The claimant appealed into the tall Court which needed to deal with whether any rights were had by the claimant in moving down in the united kingdom. In specific, the tall Court needed to considercarefully what comprises goodwill if the investor is just an international business that is web-based.

The tort of passing down

«a guy is certainly not to offer their very own products under the pretence that they’re the items of another man» (Perry v Truefitt (1842) 6 Beav. 66 at 73).

The tort of passing down enables a trader to safeguard the goodwill they will have created inside their company and their trade mark from unfair competition by means of use by a 3rd party of an indicator which may have the end result of «passing off» the party that is third products or services as those for the investor.

To be able to bring a effective action for moving down, a claimant must match the «traditional trinity» test founded by Lord Oliver within the Jif Lemon instance (Reckitt & Colman items Ltd v Borden Inc 1990 RPC 341):

1. There must be evidence of reputation or goodwill in the united kingdom attached with the goods or services;

2. the claimant must show that throughout the span of the defendant’s trade, the defendant misrepresented, whether or perhaps not deliberately, to your public that their items or solutions are the ones of this claimant; and

3. the claimant must show that the defendant’s misrepresentation would bring about real harm, or a possibility of damage, towards the goodwill within the claimant’s business..

Judgment associated with the Tall Court

Birss Hon QC upheld your decision associated with the Registrar. Aside from the known proven fact that British nationals had checked out the claimant’s PLENTYOFFISH internet site additionally the standing of that internet site when you look at the UK, the claimant just didn’t have UK based clients. Consequently, it would not offer services that are dating British clients along with maybe maybe perhaps not produced any goodwill in the united kingdom. The failure to ascertain the presence of goodwill with its online dating services in the united kingdom designed that the claimant had not pleased the «traditional trinity» ensure that you consequently the defendant’s utilization of the Trade Mark failed to constitute passing down.

The claimant had additionally argued that great britain people to its PLENTYOFFISH internet site should really be construed as the clients. The claimant’s business structure operated by providing its online dating services totally free via membership associated with internet site and attained revenue through the purchase of advertising area on the site to parties that are third. Therefore, the claimant recommended that its British visitors produced income for the business by simply virtue of these trip to the web site.

Having heard these arguments, Birss Hon QC decided that for a part of this public to be a person regarding the claimant’s company it should have obtained and used services that are dating the claimant. This argument failed as the claimant had failed to provide evidence that it had provided dating services to UK customers. The provision of marketing solutions on or before April 2007 to parties that are third unimportant towards the claimant’s application to invalidate the defendant’s Trade Mark.

Why this things:

Birss Hon QC’s choice implemented the judgment of Lloyd LJ in resort Cipriani v Cipriani (Grosvenor Street) Ltd 2010 RPC 16 which figured «an undertaking which seeks to ascertain goodwill in terms of a mark for items or services cannot achieve this, nonetheless great could be the standing of their mark into the UK, unless it offers clients among the list of public that is general great britain for all those items».

The results of the instance adds weight to your human body of current instance legislation which takes a international web-based company to prove the existence of UK based clients whom get and make use of its solutions so that you can bring a fruitful claim for moving down.

The judgment also helpfully clarifies the idea that a part regarding the public who gets and utilizes services of the business that is web-based be deemed to be an individual of such company, irrespective or no matter whether the solutions are offered for the charge or totally free.

In the years ahead, international businesses that are web-based be aware that website hits from British based visitors will never be evidence of British clients. Current instance legislation supports the scene that the courts usually do not accept that the continuing company with clients in the united kingdom may exist without goodwill. But, for a international company to produce goodwill in the united kingdom through the use of a title, mark or indication, it should offer solutions in respect of the title, mark or indication to clients in the united kingdom.

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