London black cab found ‘not distinctive’ in trade mark battle
Judgment given by Mr Justice Arnold rendered the iconic London black cab ‘not distinctive’ enough to justify the trade marks registered.
The marks were considered after the London Taxi Company issued proceeding of trade mark infringement and passing off of two trade marks they had registered which protected the shape of their well-recognised taxi models the TX4, the TXll and the TX1. They also owned a mark for a model of taxi previously used but no longer being manufactured known as the Fairway.
They argued that Frazer-Nash Research Limited had infringed these trade marks in the development and the creation of their similar model of taxi known as the Metrocab.
The defendants counter argued stating that the mark for ‘Fairway’ was invalid as it lacked inherently distinctive character.
Arnold expanded on this stating that all marks considered were invalid for this reason as there was nothing to suggest that the average consumer would perceive the marks as anything more significant than a variation of a London taxi.
Also Arnold considered whether the Fairway mark should be revoked for non-use even though he had already rendered it invalid. As that particular model of taxi had not been produced since 1997 and could only be bought second hand, he stated that the goods were only being re-circulated which did not suffice as being a proper use of a trade mark. Therefore the mark would be revoked for not being properly used.
Overall, London Taxi Company has had a rough ride with all of their trade marks voided for not being distinctive where they were the ones issuing the claim in the first place.
By Ellis Sweetenham