Jan 5, 2017

Clashes in titanic trademark dispute

Since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the name of the ocean liner has been used for numerous enterprises. Recent legal proceedings have highlighted this in a trademark dispute between companies whom operated a spa, hotel and trading quarter.

The parties involved were Property Renaissance Ltd who run a luxury spa business known as the Titanic Spa, owner of a trademark for 'Titanic Spa'. Secondly, Stanley Dock Hotel Ltd & Stanley Dock Properties Ltd who operate Titanic Hotel Liverpool, which contained a spa and referred to that spa in publicity materials and, finally, Titanic Trademark Ltd & Titanic Quarter Ltd (Titanic Belfast), the companies behind The Titanic Quarter in Belfast and owner of two trademarks including 'Titanic Quarter'. The latter licensed use of its trademarks to Titanic Liverpool.

Between the above parties, there have been various parallel legal proceedings. Carr J in the High Court ruled that the Titanic Hotel Liverpool had infringed the Titanic Spa mark, on the basis that it was common for a hotel to have a spa therefore there was a similarity between Titanic Spa and Titanic Hotel such that the average consumer may believe that the goods or services under those names come from parties which are linked in some way.  Titanic Liverpool was not able to rely on the own name defence given that there was actual confusion and despite the fact that Titanic Liverpool took steps to re-brand its spa, those steps were completed too late.

Titanic Belfast also alleged that Titanic Spa had infringed its 'Titanic Quarter' mark. Carr J held that this action failed. The judge held that 'Titanic Spa' and 'Titanic Quarter' were composite marks meaning that whilst they both use the word 'Titanic' the meanings behind them were different since they are used on conjunction with other words and one related to a spa and the other to a geographic area in Belfast.

Finally, the judge allowed Titanic Liverpool and Titanic Belfast's requests that they were legally entitled to use the signs 'Titanic Quarter' and 'Titanic Quarter Hotel Liverpool' for hotels which they operated in the UK.

It is unclear if the dispute will continue to the Court of Appeal or sink here to lie with the High Court judgment.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: News, Trade Marks

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