By Briony Pollard and Serena Totino
Last month, a quintessential London symbol was subject to the scrutiny of the Hon. Mr. Justice Arnold in a case concerning Community and UK trade marks for the iconic shape of the black London taxi cab in Class 12 (the Trade Marks), owned by The London Taxi Corporation Limited (LTC).
LTC claimed that Frazer-Nash Research Limited and Ecotive Limited (FNR) had intended to deceive the public as to the origin of the Metrocab, a new model of the London taxi. LTC argued that a result of FNR adopting the specific shape it had for the Metrocab, was that consumers would think that it emanated from the same source as LTC’s taxis. As such, FNR threatened to infringe the trade marks and to commit passing off by marketing the Metrocab. FNR contended that the trade marks were invalidly registered because they lack distinctive character and give substantial value to the goods.