1 June 2020
Brands update - June 2020 – 6 of 10 Insights
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 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:
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.
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:  4 WLUK 104
by Julia King