Comedian Joe Lycett has today made headlines by changing his name by deed poll to “Hugo Boss” (see here). Such action has been taken (presumably temporarily!) in support of a number of small businesses said to have been targeted by the famous brand. However, does this drastic action give Mr Lycett (sorry, Mr Boss) free rein to use the trade mark going forward?
It has long been established that use by a person of his own name can be a complete defence to UK trade mark infringement. The relevant provision (found at s.11(2)(a) of the Trade Marks Act 1994) was looked at by law makers as recently as 2018, when it was decided that businesses can no longer rely on the defence in respect of company names.
However, crucially, it has always been the case that any such use of a name (whether by an individual, or historically by a company) needs to be in accordance with “honest practices in industrial and commercial matters”.
Mr Boss is, therefore, free to use his new name as he likes in respect of non-commercial matters. However, in respect of any commercial matters (including the “brand new product launch” referenced in the tweets), one suspects that changing your name in a deliberate attempt to target a famous brand is unlikely to meet the required “honest” standard…
Nonetheless, a good IP related story for a Monday morning!
Copyright litigation proceedings brought in London’s Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) against John Lewis, and its cartoon dragon ‘Excitable Edgar’, have been dismissed.
Superman is Clark Kent. Batman is Bruce Wayne. And Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, is…Dr Craig Wright (or so he claims).
As AI technology develops, we are now firmly in the age of non-humans authoring literary content which might be worthy of protection under intellectual property laws.
One of the hottest trade mark issues around at the moment is the question of how effectively can trade mark rights protect brand owners’ interests in non-fungible tokens (otherwise known as “NFTs”).