1. Juni 2020

Brands update - June 2020 – 6 von 10 Insights

Can't pay? We'll take it away! Or grant you summary judgment, at least…

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An enforcement agency – known as the debt collectors on TV show Can't pay? We'll take it away! – has been granted summary judgment in the UK in its passing off claim against a former employee and their competitor company. The defendants had been operating as an enforcement agency using the same logo and name as the claimant, misrepresenting themselves as the claimant.

The facts

The claimant had gained widespread public attention using the show's logo and name over several seasons of Channel 5 documentary series Can't pay? We'll take it away!. While the rights to the logo and name belonged to the producers of the show, they had granted the claimant permission to use them in promoting the claimant's business.;

The third defendant had been an employee of the claimant between 2016-2018, after which he set up the first defendant company, an enforcement agency operating under the same name and logo as the claimant. The first defendant was registered at the same address as the claimant and the third defendant even retained control of the claimant's Twitter account.

The third defendant argued that:

  • the claimant did not have exclusive rights to the logo and name as they belonged to the production company
  • the registered address was merely a "virtual address" that he was unaware was shared with the claimant, and
  • that he would happily close the Twitter account, but did not know the login details.

The judgment

Without control over the defendants' services, this caused damage to the claimant. As the third defendant had given an undertaking not to use the name or logo, an injunction was unnecessary and summary judgment was granted.

Comment

It is important to recognise that the lack of exclusive rights to a name or brand is not a barrier to a successful claim for passing off.

Case reference: LTL 8/4/2020 EXTEMPORE: [2020] 4 WLUK 104

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