Ford opposition attempt breaks down with the UK Intellectual Property Office
Ford Motor Company made an attempt to oppose a UK application which suffered a flat tyre curtesy of the UK Intellectual Property Office.
The matter centred around a UK trade mark application for ‘Lynk&Co’ which was filed in class 12 for vehicles and class 37 for motor vehicle maintenance in May 2016.
The application was filed by Geely who are a Chinese automotive company.
Ford filed an opposition against the application on the grounds that the mark in question was phonetically similar to its own mark ‘Lincoln’ and was registered in respect of an identical class, class 12.
Ford also opposed on the basis that the application mark is likely to free-ride on the reputation of Ford in respect of advertising and promotion. Ford’s opposition claims this will then cause damage to Ford’s reputation as the producer of luxury and high-quality vehicles.
As part of the evidence backing this opposition, Ford filed a witness statement from its chief trade mark counsel, Peter Tassie.
This witness statement highlighted that while Ford have not had high levels of sale of the ‘Lincoln’ model in the UK, the reputation of the cars extend beyond this as the vehicles produced by Ford are of a luxury quality.
Within the witness statement. Tassie also made reference to the tv programme, Top Gear, as an indicator that the show has made the car model popular and well known in the UK.
In considering the case, George Salthouse acting on behalf of the UK Intellectual Property Office challenged Ford, highlighting that they had not and do not offer for sale vehicles under the ‘Lincoln’ mark in the UK.
To combat this, Ford stated that as long as the Lincoln model was being imported to the UK and they were not taking action to prevent the importation, they can use such activity as proper use in the market.
Salthouse disagreed and handed down his decision in favour of Geely, highlighting that he does not believe Ford’s use of ‘Lincoln’ in the UK as genuine and intentional use.
Therefore, Salthouse ordered that Ford’s opposition has failed completely and ordered them to pay Geely the sum of £1,700.00
It seems that what Ford thought was going to be a walk in the park, became a non-starter.
If you would like to know more about how to protect your brand, please contact The Trademarkroom team today.