Manchester-based Bentley Clothing has won its action against Bentley Motors, whom the former accused of trademark infringement after the luxury car manufacturer developed a range of clothing bearing the “BENTLEY” name.
The ruling comes after a long dispute between the family-owned apparel company and the Volkswagen subsidiary, during which Bentley Clothing accused Bentley Motors of a sustained effort to appropriate its trademarks. For its part, Bentley Motors applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) to cancel Bentley Clothing’s trademarks. The UKIPO rejected Bentley Motors’ application, paving the way for Bentley Clothing to launch trademark infringement proceedings in the High Court.
In his judgment, Judge Richard Hacon said that Bentley Motors’ conduct, specifically regarding its application to the UKIPO, was “consistent with an intent to clear away Bentley Clothing’s right to protect the BENTLEY mark for clothing and headgear and ultimately to extinguish Bentley Clothing’s right altogether”.
With Bentley Motors found to have infringed Bentley Clothing’s trademarks, the former will likely have to pay substantial damages, and may be compelled to destroy unsold BENTLEY-branded clothing. Bentley Motors is thought to be considering whether to appeal the judgment.
Bentley Clothing Director and co-owner Chris Lees told The Trademark Lawyer: “Bentley Motors were using an identical trademark as ours, for identical products, in the same territory, and they tried to terminate our rights. It’s sad it’s taken so long, but I was never going to give up”.
For more on this story, see our forthcoming Annual Edition of The Trademark Lawyer for an exclusive interview with Chris Lees, Bentley Clothing Director, and co-owner.