Twisted Automotive wins High Court battle over trademark

Charles Fawcett of Twisted Automotive
Charles Fawcett of Twisted Automotive
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A Yorkshire company has won a High Court battle with Jaguar Land Rover over the use of a trademark.

The High Court of Justice has dismissed an appeal by Jaguar Land Rover in its dispute over a trademark with Twisted Automotive, which is based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

In May last year, Louise White, acting for the registrar of Trade Marks upheld the opposition by Twisted Automotive to the registration by Jaguar of the trademark “LR”.

The application by Jaguar to register trademark “LR” in the UK was in respect of various goods including land vehicles, parts and fittings for vehicles, wheels and their accessories. Twisted opposed the trademark, stating that it had been selling the same goods and providing services under the unregistered sign “LR Motors” since November 2015.

In 2015, businessman Charles Fawcett set up a division of Twisted known as LR Motors for the sale exclusively of second-hand Land Rover Defender vehicles, parts and accessories.

Twisted claimed that it had acquired goodwill under the sign and the use of the trademark applied for by Jaguar would be a misrepresentation to the public amounting to “passing off”.

After an appeal hearing last month, Mrs Justice Rose wrote in her judgement: “Jaguar has not shown that Ms White went wrong in any way in her assessment of this opposition and certainly have not shown that she went wrong to the degree that would entitle this court to interfere with her decision.

“I agree with submissions on behalf of Twisted that the underlying assumption on which Jaguar’s challenge rests, namely that everyone realises that the initials “LR” in “LR Motors” refer to Land Rover, is simply an assertion by Jaguar with no evidence to support it.

“The undisputed evidence was that Jaguar Land Rover has never used the initials “LR” as a sign for its goods in this country. Jaguar stated at the hearing that it was not putting forward any use of “LR” prior to the application for registration in support of its application.

She added: “I accept that this was primarily relevant to the question of the date of assessment but it also confirms the conclusion that there is no basis for saying that customers of LR Motors would realise that the initials “LR”, if used by Land Rover, refer only to Jaguar Land Rover and are not connected with LR Motors.”

A Jaguar Land Rover spokesman said: “Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t comment on legal disputes, however protecting our intellectual property is something we take very seriously.”