The London Taxi Company (LTC) has lost an appeal to the Court of Appeal in a case concerning its three dimensional trade mark for the shape of traditional London black cabs.
LTC had UK and EU trade marks for the shape, and issued court proceedings against a competitor for trade mark infringement and passing off. The competitor, designing its new Metrocab, counter-claimed for the invalidity of the trade marks and won in the High Court in 2016. Mr Justice Arnold was the High Court judge; his judgment was complex and, at almost 300 paragraphs long, covered a multiplicity of legal issues including distinctive character, shapes which give substantial value to goods, non-use, infringement and passing off. The conclusion of the case was that the trade mark for the shape of the London taxi cab was not valid, and therefore could not be infringed (LTC lost).
The case was seen by many as exemplifying the difficulties owners of three dimensional trade marks face in attempting to enforce their marks and in demonstrating to a court that consumers associate a shape, even an iconic shape, as designating the origin of goods or services, which is a requirement for trade marks.
LTC appealed to the Court of Appeal, but Lord Justices Floyd and Kitchin, sitting in the Court of Appeal, upheld the 2016 judgment. According to the BBC, LTC has indicated that it may appeal to the Supreme Court.
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