Jack Wills wins logo court action

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2013 Holiday Shopping Windows - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Clothing brand Jack Wills has won its High Court action against House of Fraser over its logo of a silhouette of a pheasant with a top hat and cane.

The company claimed that the department store's use, between November 2011 and February 2013, of a logo consisting of the silhouette of a pigeon with a top hat and bow-tie constituted trade mark infringement.

Its counsel, Roger Wyand QC, said that the similarity of the "Mr Wills" logo, which is used in three different versions with the simplest registered as both a UK and a Community trade mark, and the pigeon logo, which appears in two slightly different versions on a selection of the store's own Linea range of men's clothing, was likely to cause confusion among customers.

At London's High Court today, Mr Justice Arnold said that there was a likelihood of confusion on the part of the average consumer.

"As counsel for Jack Wills pointed out, the human eye has a tendency to see what it expects to see."

Even assuming that the consumer appreciated that the two logos were different, there was an obvious resemblance between them, in particular the conceptual similarity.

He said that House of Fraser intended the pigeon logo to have brand significance and that was how consumers would have perceived it.

"Furthermore, it is clear that House of Fraser's intention in using the pigeon logo was to make the garments more attractive to consumers.

"I consider that it was a classic case of a retailer seeking to enhance the attraction of its own brand goods by adopting an aspect of the get-up of prestigious branded goods, in this case an embroidered logo of the kind used by Fred Perry, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren and others.

"Thus House of Fraser was seeking to influence the economic behaviour of consumers of Linea menswear. I see no reason to think it will not have succeeded in that endeavour."

He added that he considered it a legitimate inference from the nature of the particular market and the logos that, due to its resemblance to the trade marks, the effect of House of Fraser's use of the pigeon logo would have been to cause a subtle but insidious transfer of image from the trade marks to the pigeon logo - and hence from Jack Wills' goods to House of Fraser's goods - in the minds of some consumers, whether that was House of Fraser's intention or not.

"This will have assisted House of Fraser to increase the attraction of its goods in circumstances where House of Fraser did not undertake any advertising or promotion of those goods. Furthermore, House of Fraser had no justification for such conduct.

"Thus I conclude that House of Fraser did take unfair advantage of the reputation of the trade marks."

Find the hidden meanings in logos

Find the hidden meanings in logos