AMS Neve and Heritage Audio in Court – round one
Heritage Audio are nothing if not bold. The Spanish company is currently in litigation with AMS Neve Limited over the manufacture and sale of the look and sound a like ‘1073’.
Their website states
‘The name says it all – first introduced by Neve in 1970……. We are proud to introduce what, to our knowledge, is the most historically accurate reproduction ever made. Using the same components, specifications and equally important, same time consuming construction techniques, our 1073 looks and sounds as good as a Rupert Neve era 1073 module and will last as long’.
AMS Neve are understandably aggrieved. They are suing for trade mark infringement in three marks, one European wide registered mark ‘1073’ and two other logo marks registered in the UK incorporating a stylised sine wave. They say that Heritage Audio are using marks which are confusingly similar to the registered AMS Neve marks. The use of the AMS Neve marks by Heritage Audio is not in dispute. Further the Heritage Audio website indicates that the products on offer can be bought from a UK distributor and that orders could be placed from anywhere in the EU. While there was some dispute as to whether these statement reflected the reality of Heritage Audio’s business model the court was happy to accept that Heritage Audio are targeting UK customers. The question before the court at this preliminary stage was whether the UK court had jurisdiction to hear a case that concerned issues of infringement of an EU trade mark rather than a UK trade mark.
The answer in short is that it seems not. The tests applied by the court for the two types of mark are different. For the UK mark the test hinges on where ‘the harm to AMS Neve has taken place’. For the EU mark the right place to bring a claim is the place where the harmful actions are being conducted – in this case by persons in Spain. While the prospect of a different decision on infringement in the UK Court and the Community trade mark court in Spain are remote, you cannot deny that this is a very inefficient way of conducting litigation. It may be best for AMS Neve to put the Spanish part of the case on hold until a decision in the UK court on the UK trademark. Either way we look forward to the next round and finding out whether or to what extent Heritage Audio have overstepped the mark and can be prevented from selling products using the AMS Neve brand.
For more information on trademark issues or to arrange a free consultation with expert intellectual property lawyers contact Margaret Briffa www.briffa.com