Could US dating website Plentyoffish stop UK “Plenty More trade mark registration that is fish?

Written Osborne Clarke on 07 Nov 2011

US internet dating internet site launched in 2001. British competitor “Plenty More Fish” set up in 2006 plus in 2007 filed to join up a seafood logo design while the terms PLENTY MORE FISH as A british trade mark. The united states site compared, but achieved it have grounds? Miah Ramanathan states the verdict.

Topic: Companies

Who: Plentyoffish Media Inc, the plenty and claimant More LLP, the defendant.

exactly just What took place:

An endeavor with A united states based website that is dating have the registration of an equivalent brand name by A british company declared invalid on grounds of passing down unsuccessful during the High Court as the US web site didn’t have clients in the united kingdom.


The defendant started an on-line agency that is dating 2006 and registered a figurative trade mark integrating the words “PLENTYMOREFISH” for agency online dating services in course 45 in October 2007 (the “Trade Mark”). In October 2008, the claimant, whom since 2001 had additionally operated an online dating agency based offshore underneath the title PLENTYOFFISH, presented a credit card applicatoin towards the British Intellectual Property workplace for a statement of invalidity according associated with Trade Mark under section 5(4)(a) associated with the Trade Mark Act 1994 (the “TMA”).

The program ended up being regarding the foundation that the Trade Mark constituted an infringement regarding the claimant’s typical legislation liberties in moving off. Part 5(4)(a) of this TMA provides that a trade mark shall never be registered if its use within the united kingdom would otherwise be avoided under any guideline of legislation (in specific regulations of moving down) protecting a trade that is unregistered or indication from getting used in the span of trade.

The Registrar dismissed the claimant’s application in February 2011 regarding the foundation that there have been no grounds when it comes to statement of invalidity desired because the claimant had neglected to offer evidence so it had supplied online dating services to customers in britain and for that reason produced goodwill in britain as at April 2007 (the date associated with the defendant’s application when it comes to Trade Mark). The claimant appealed towards the tall Court which needed to deal with whether any rights were had by the claimant in passing down in britain. In specific, the tall Court had to think about what comprises goodwill once the investor is an international business that is web-based.

The tort of passing down

“a guy is certainly not to offer his very own items under the pretence they are the products of another man” (Perry v Truefitt (1842) 6 Beav. 66 at 73).

The tort of passing down enables a trader to safeguard the goodwill they’ve produced within their company and their trade mark from unjust competition by means of usage by an authorized of an indication which may have the end result of “passing off” the party that is third goods or solutions as those regarding the investor.

To be able to bring a effective action for moving down, a claimant must match the “traditional trinity” test established by Lord Oliver into the Jif Lemon instance (Reckitt & Colman items Ltd v Borden Inc 1990 RPC 341):

1. There must be evidence of reputation or goodwill in britain attached with the products or solutions;

2. the claimant must show that throughout the length of the defendant’s trade, the defendant misrepresented, whether or perhaps not deliberately, to your public that their products or solutions are the ones associated with the claimant; and

3. the claimant must show that the defendant’s misrepresentation would lead to real harm, or a possibility of harm, to your goodwill into the claimant’s company..

Judgment associated with the Tall Court

Birss Hon QC upheld your decision of the Registrar. Regardless of the proven fact that UK nationals had checked out the claimant’s PLENTYOFFISH web site while the standing of that site within the UK, the claimant just didn’t have UK based clients. Therefore, it would not offer online dating services to British clients along with perhaps maybe not produced any goodwill in the UK. The failure to ascertain the presence of goodwill in its online dating services in the united kingdom designed that the claimant hadn’t pleased the “traditional trinity” ensure that you consequently the defendant’s utilization of the Trade Mark would not constitute passing down.

The claimant had additionally argued that great britain people to its PLENTYOFFISH web site ought to be construed as the clients. The claimant’s business structure operated by giving its online dating services cost-free via account associated with internet site and attained revenue through the sale of ad space on the site to parties that are third. Consequently, the claimant advised that its British site site visitors created income for the company by just virtue of the stop by at the internet site.

Having paid attention to these arguments, Birss Hon QC decided that for a member of this public to be an individual of this claimant’s company it should have obtained and utilized services that are dating the claimant. This argument failed as the claimant had failed to provide evidence that it had provided dating services to UK customers. The supply of marketing solutions on or before April 2007 to parties that are third unimportant into the claimant’s application to invalidate the defendant’s Trade Mark.

Why this issues:

Birss Hon QC’s choice implemented the judgment of Lloyd LJ in resort Cipriani v Cipriani (Grosvenor Street) Ltd 2010 RPC 16 which determined that “an undertaking which seeks to ascertain goodwill with regards to a mark for items or services cannot do this, however great could be the standing of their mark when you look at the UK, unless it offers clients among the list of public that is general great britain for all items”.

The results of the instance adds fat to your human body of current instance legislation which requires a foreign business that is web-based show the existence of UK based clients whom get and employ its solutions to be able to bring an effective claim for moving down.

The judgment additionally helpfully clarifies the idea that an associate of this public whom gets and utilizes solutions of the web-based company will be considered become a client of these company, irrespective or whether or not the solutions are given for a cost or totally free.

In the years ahead, international web-based companies should be aware that website hits from British based site visitors will never be evidence of British clients. Current situation legislation supports the view that the courts try not to accept that a company with customers in the united kingdom may exist without goodwill. Nevertheless, for a business that is foreign create goodwill in the united kingdom using a title, mark or indication, it should offer solutions in respect of this name, mark or indication to clients in the united kingdom.

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