Lloyd's obtains victory - but only just

United Kingdom
In Lloyd's v Lloyds Publishing Group Ltd, the Chancery Division of the High Court of England and Wales has granted interim injunctive relief to Lloyd's, the famous insurance services provider, and Informa, an international provider of specialist information and services.

Lloyd's, the principal claimant in this case, has been trading since 1688. The second claimant, Informa, published the Lloyd's List Law Reports (now the Lloyd's Law Reports),which Lloyd's originally published itself. Lloyd's owns the LLOYD'S and LLOYD'S LIST registered trademarks.
The defendant, Lloyds Publishing Group Ltd, was a small private company that claimed to be a leading global maritime industry information service. In the course of its business, it sought subscriptions to its website and sold advertising space in its publications. The claimants found out that Lloyds Publishing was contacting several of their clients, who then placed advertisements in the latter's publications in the mistaken belief that those advertisements were to be placed in Informa's publications - a belief which Lloyds Publishing did not take the opportunity to correct.

The claimants sued for passing off and trademark infringement, objecting that Lloyds Publishing:
  • was offering similar services in the same markets, thus causing a likelihood of confusion; and
  • had taken unfair advantage of, or had traded on, their established reputation.
Lloyds Publishing counterclaimed for the partial invalidity of the claimants' trademarks. The claimants applied for summary judgment on the basis that Lloyds Publishing had no reasonable prospect of defending the claim at trial or making out its counterclaim.

On the evidence before him at the summary stage, Mr Justice Warren agreed that some aspects of the defence and counterclaim were fanciful. However, he could not rule that Lloyds Publishing had no reasonable prospect of defending the claim at trial. By way of consolation, he agreed that there was sufficient evidence to grant the claimants interim injunctive relief.
Jeremy Phillips, IP consultant to Olswang, London

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