Fine & Country v Okotoks, High Court
F&C had registered the “Fine & Country” name and logo as registered UK and European Community trade marks so it could license them to independent estate agents. Without their permission, the defendants used the name and logo “Fine” with a strap line “selling fine homes throughout the country”. F&C have now successfully sued in the High Court for registered trade mark infringement and passing off.
The High Court rejected challenges to the trade mark registrations and decided that they were not lacking in distinctiveness. The Court also decided that the goodwill belonged to the licensor and the not the individual estate agent licensees – that was why the estate agents were willing to pay large licence fees to use the brand.
The High Court also upheld the evidence adduced by the claimants showing confusion which in one case had actually been acted on. F&C had not found it easy to prove evidence of deception and confusion, as the High Court gave little weight to email confusion which F&C had asked its licensees to gather; however, overall the High Court was happy enough that there was sufficient evidence for F&C to win in its claim.