Trademark lawsuits are abundant in the fashion world as brands and retailers alike scramble to protect their intellectual property anyway they can. However, one of the latest cases to spring up in the UK is different from the most run of the mill counterfeit or trademark lawsuits. UK clothing brand Bentley, known for its sporting inspired lifestyle range, has become the unwilling target of Bentley Motors, who is seeking to cancel the former brand’s registered trademark in the UK.
Luxury car brand Bentley Motors is in a legal battle with a small menswear clothing company over the use of its name.Bentley Clothing, which sells its clothes in seven shops across Britain, has been pursued by the car group to cancel their trademark and stop the use of its name.
Bentley Clothing is owned by father and son Bob and Christopher Lees. The Lees family bought the brand from founder Gerald Bentley in 1991, however following difficulties in the 1990s their companies were put into receivership.
A UK clothing company has been angered by car maker Bentley Motors’s attempt to cancel its registered trademarks.
Christopher Lees, director at Manchester-based clothing company Bentley, told WIPR that the car maker has rejected entering into a licensing agreement with it and is now “trying to kill off my 53 year old clothing brand”.
Bentley Motors launched its clothing range in 2005 and has opposed all five of Bentley’s marks at the IPO. According to the IPO’s database the car maker applied for a trademark for the term ‘Bentley’ covering various items of clothing in June 2015.
Name battle: Bentley Motors argues that the clothing company has not been trading properly
The Lees then bought back the Bentley Clothing name and have been trying to re-establish the company. The company’s clothes were once sold in hundreds of shops but now only seven shops stock it.
Christopher Lees, who is being advised by trademark attorney Mewburn Ellis, said: ‘Our attempts to develop have been thwarted because Bentley Motors have infringed and appear to claim ownership of our registered trademarks. Growth has been strangled.
Bentley Motors, which is owned by Volkswagen Group, argued that the clothing company has not been trading properly. However Lees has submitted evidence to the court that it has continued to trade.
Bentley Clothing, reports the Financial Times, is based in Manchester and employs around 10 people. It is yet to open an online shop and currently sells its products in just a few shops across Britain. Originally founded in London back in 1962 by Gerard Bentley, it originally made golf apparel.
Bob and Christopher Lees bought the brand in 1990, and later purchased the Bentley Clothing name after the original companies went into receivership. They registered a UK trademark for clothing in 2009 – and this is what Bentley was seeking to cancel
Bentley Motors argued Bentley Clothing was trading on its reputation, but Mr. Lees countered that Bentley did not have a strong reputation in clothing and had “acquiesced in its use of the Bentley name”. On March 15, the UK Intellectual Property Office found in favor of Bentley Clothing.