ASOS loss after £20.2 million settlement reach for brand battle
Retailer giant ASOS has been hit with a £20.2 million pay-out after they were found to have infringed the trade marks of two European rivals.
The two retailers in question are cycle wear manufacturer, ASSOS of Switzerland and German menswear retailer Anson’s Herrenhaus.
The main case was between ASOS and ASSOS and has had a long and winding history.
The case first originated in the EU with ASSOS issuing a Community Trade Mark dispute with the newly named European Union Intellectual Property Office.
From this, owners of ASSOS moved their actions to the UK and started proceedings in the High Court arguing that there had been infringement of their EU trade mark and that the ASOS UK mark was partially invalid.
While the High Court favoured with ASOS, this was reversed on appeal by the Court of Appeal in April 2015. The Court of Appeal held that there was a likelihood of confusions between the marks and the ‘ASOS’ mark could cause damage to the ‘ASSOS’ mark. However, the court did give another side and stated that the ‘ASOS’ mark should not be deemed invalid and could remain under the ‘own name’ principle and refused to allow an appeal on that matter.
This is why the settlement payment has come about. The pay out of £20.2 million is compensatory for using the mark which infringes the ‘ASSOS’ mark instead of the court ruling the mark invalid and ASOS having to change their complete brand.
This decision was welcomed by ASOS as expressed by their chief executive Nick Beighton who said “We are pleased to have put this litigation behind us. Entering into this settlement at this juncture is the right commercial decision for our business”.
There are some restrictions including in the agreement which include the prohibition of selling cycle wear as well as not being allowed to open shops in Germany.
This has clearly paved the way for further cases in the fashion branding world on this issue and it will be interesting to see how these brands move on from this.
If you are interested in building a brand, get in contact with Jane at The Trademarkroom.
By Ellis Sweetenham