31 January 2024

They have all been involved in recent trade mark disputes and have come away, to a greater or lesser extent, disappointed, beaten by the smaller company or forced to accept a compromise.

Pop star Katy Perry lost her trademark battle with Australian fashion designer Katie Taylor a.k.a. Katie Perry (her birth and clothes brand name): the pop star’s merchandise infringed the designer’s trademark and the “California Girls” singer lost.

Kate McKenzie created a tool called Word Windows. After a dispute with Microsoft it was renamed Word Window, so all Kate had to do is drop an “s”.

200 year old gin-maker Bullards defeated Red Bull’s claim that “Bull” in both brand-names would be the source of public confusion.

And lastly, in a January 2024 decision, Louis Vuitton lost on all grounds against small garden supply business LV Bespoke, named after Lawrence and Victoria Osborne, the owners.

Arguably these are all, with hindsight, matters of common sense, but a lot of smaller companies try and avoid the time and money of defending a trade mark claim brought by a massive company with deep pockets, even if that claim is a bad one (as it certainly was in the case of Bullards and Louis Vuitton). That means small companies give in instantly when they could win, with the right representation.

Since the end of lockdown there has been a noticeable rise in big brands seeking to protect their trademarks. The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) experienced a 44% rise in defended tribunal cases, from 2,254 in 2021/2022 to 3,247 in 2022/2023.

In the last 12 months Battens has been contacted by several smaller companies to help them fight these David vs Goliath battles. Sometimes a big brand is simply trying to bully its way to a win without just cause, but in other cases the big brand may have a point. Smaller companies, especially if well-advised, are more prepared to fight and beat the larger ones.

If you have any trade mark or other intellectual property issues please contact our Legal 500 Recommended Lawyer Brian Levine at or call on 01935 846000.