Case Study: It’s a Small World

Growing a new brand is a hard business, particularly in today’s globalised economy. You might be forgiven for thinking that the hardest part is finding trusted distributors and securing your supply chains: unfortunately, that is only one part of the equation, you also have to be mindful of the fact that competitors will always be keeping a wary eye over anyone they think is treading on their toes.

We act for an up-and-coming apparel brand that can be said to ‘punch above its weight’ who recently found itself on the opposite side to one of the most famous brands in the world for trade mark disputes. Said brand decided to send our client numerous threatening letters before commencing parallel proceedings in multiple jurisdictions against its recently filed trade marks. With an infinitely larger budget, it is fair to say that they might have been throwing their weight around in the hope our client would simply give up.

Given our client was already selling its products in multiple retailers, this was something of a tense moment. Against this backdrop was the fact that some of the key proceedings were conducted in both the UK and the EU, directly after the recent Brexit referendum when most lawyers (and governments) were still deciding how the new legal landscape for cases like these would play out.

Despite being seemingly outgunned, we advised our client to hold their nerve and were able to leverage the legal uncertainty to string our opponent out until such time as the rights upon which they were relying as part of the proceedings were no longer valid. Added to this, we did so on an agreed fee scale which was a fraction of our opponent’s and our client has since gone on to successfully register its brand in some of the largest markets in the world as a result.

How we added value

In a case like this, it would be tempting to stop at the initial successful outcome and leave matters at that. However, we were also mindful of our client’s wider commercial strategy: this included building a brand base in Asia and we were conscious of the fact that securing Western language trade marks alone was not sufficient to achieve their objectives.

A common mistake Western brands make when entering this market is not to also register their brand in the local language, thereby either leaving the local market to adopt one they do not like or for infringers to get in through the back door without them knowing. Given our long-standing experience in this area, we were able to plug this gap at the same time as securing a successful outcome in the original proceedings.

Why you need Briffa

When faced with a much larger opponent, you need someone on your side with the agility of a small firm but the combined international experience of a much larger practice. We benefit from being a one-stop-shop versed in the law of several key jurisdictions around the world, coupled with long-standing relationships with firms on the ground who work on the same fixed fee basis that we do for trade mark disputes.

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