Friday, 20 December 2013

BBC News - Oxford University wins claim against Oxford Law School

BBC News has this entertaining story which deserves a wide audience. The Oxford Law School was located in Eastleigh, Hampshire, a railway town 62 miles down the A34 and before it became a seat of legal learning famous for the first flight of the Spitfire (manufactured nearby in Southampton), as the place where Benny Hill had his first job (on Woolworth's, and his second job, as a milkman), and as the constituency of Chris Huhne before he became Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds.

The case is not yet reported on BAILII but rest assured I will let you know when I see it there. It is a judgment of Judge Janet Lambert in the trendily-renamed Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (the 'enterprise' part allowing the audit-obsessed government to tick a box somewhere, I assume). The defence seems to have been that even a moron in a hurry would not have been deceived (the BBC report elides trade mark infringement and passing off, so it is  not clear what cause of action was involved: perhaps both), which indicates that the principal ought to attend some of the School's lectures - that hypothetical individual plays no part in determining whether deception or confusion occurs. As I wrote of that phrase in my Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law:
A regrettable expression in this day and age, first used by Foster J in Morning Star Cooperative Society v Express Newspapers Limited [1979] FSR 113 (a different day and age, perhaps). The publishers of the Communist Party newspaper sought an injunction to prevent Express Newspapers from launching a new tabloid newspaper under the name The Daily Star, which was light on politics (especially of the left-wing variety) and heavy on the sort of photographic works not seen, for ideological as well as aesthetic reasons, in the Morning Star.
The judge asked whether the plaintiffs could ‘show a misrepresentation express or implied that the newspaper to be published by the defendants is connected with the plaintiffs’ business and that as a consequence damage is likely to result to the plaintiffs’ and stated that ‘if one puts the two papers side by side I for myself would find that the two papers are so different in every way that only a moron in a hurry would be misled.’

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