Jack Wills victory over battle of the bird logos

Monday, 03 February 2014
Fashion retailer Jack Wills has won a high court victory over department store chain House of Fraser over the use of its avian-related logo. The preppy fashion label filed court claims against HoF’s use of a pigeon in a hat logo for its in-store menswear brand, Linea, which it stated was too similar to its own pheasant in a top hat with cane. This action then led HoF to counter-sued, calling for the young fashion brand’s copyright on the image, known as Mr Wills to be invalidated as it argued that there was a widespread use of birds in clothing in industry logos and that customers are able to distinguish between the two.

However, the High Court ruled that House of Fraser’s use of the logo on its branded clothes infringed on Jack Wills’ famous pheasant logo, agreeing with Jack Wills that the HoF’s design could confuse consumers.

In his ruling, Judge Mr Justice Arnold said it was “a classic case of a retailer seeking to enhance the attraction of its own brand goods by adopting an aspect of the get-up of prestigious branded goods.”

Jack Wills wins logo court action over House of Fraser

Jeremy Hertzog, IP Partner at Mishcon de Reya, which represented Jack Wills, commented: “This case is a paradigm example of a retailer sailing too close to the wind in aping the get-up of a famous brand for a lookalike product.

“Jack Wills had to take action to preserve the distinctiveness of its famous pheasant trade mark; had it not done so, the floodgates would have opened to a plethora of other clothing brands using emblems of birds wearing top hats and other human adornments. By winning this case, Jack Wills has marked that out as its territory alone.”

The court heard that House of Fraser abandoned the pigeon logo last year, but not before up to 20,000 shirts were sold over a 15-month period. The court ruling opens the way for Jack Wills to claim damages from HoF for the infringement, while the department store is considering an appeal.

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