17 December 2019

Successful opposition for Vera Lynn in trade mark battle

Taylor Wessing has represented Dame Vera Lynn on a successful opposition to an application by Halewood International Brands (Halewood) to trade mark her name in relation to gin and other alcoholic beverages.

A trade mark application for ‘Vera Lynn’ was submitted by Halewood on 14 June last year. The application was opposed on 1 October 2018 on behalf of longstanding client Dame Vera Lynn, who had not been asked for her permission to use the name by the company.

Following the trade mark tribunal hearing on Tuesday 12 November 2019, the Registrar found that the opposition succeeded on both grounds of passing off and bad faith and ordered Halewood to pay costs to Dame Vera Lynn.

Commenting on the decision, partner Charles Lloyd, who led this case, said "Organisations must ensure that they obtain all necessary approvals before filing for trade marks for their products, particularly when using the name of a well-known person. In this instance, the name and reputation of our client meant that Halewood were taking a huge risk in going ahead without her consent. Our priority was of course to support our client, and we're pleased that the registrar agreed with our submissions. This outlines some key considerations that others in the industry need to be aware of before taking a new product and brand to market."

The team was led by partner Charles Lloyd with support from Christopher Benson, Matthew Neat, Nick Harrison with Ashton Chantrielle of 8 New Square instructed for the hearing.

Charles Lloyd and the team have acted for Lynn in her business affairs for many years and recently negotiated film agreements for a biographical film of her life.

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