Red Bull High Court trade mark victory should reassure brand owners

Red Bull High Court trade mark victory should reassure brand owners


Author: Anastasia Fowle

Shoosmiths has secured an important High Court victory for client Red Bull, which should reassure owners of household name brands seeking to prevent rivals infringing famous trade marks.

Red Bull brought a case against Sun Mark Limited and Sea Air and Land Forwarding Limited for infringement of its 'BULLIT' trade marks, and for infringement of its famous trade mark for 'RED BULL'.

Red Bull was successful in both claims.

The defendants marketed their own energy drink under the name Bullet, and it was found that there was a real chance that consumers could confuse this drink with Red Bull's own Bullit range for which it had prior trade mark rights. It was found that Red Bull's rights in its 'BULLIT' trade marks were infringed by the defendants.

The defendants had also been using the slogan No Bull in this can to sell their energy drink.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Arnold ruled that 'it is plain that the use of the sign BULL in the context of the strapline No Bull in this can, will call the trade mark RED BULL to the mind of the average consumer'.

He went on to find the defendants' use of the strapline took unfair advantage of Red Bull's reputation in its community trade mark, contrary to the provisions of European trade mark regulations.

Acting for Red Bull, Shoosmiths intellectual property specialists Anastasia Fowle and Jo Joyce expressed satisfaction, though not surprise, at the judge's findings.

Fowle said: "Mr Justice Arnold has confirmed the legal position, and the owners of famous brands can take comfort that the law will protect their valuable intellectual property from those who would seek to take unfair advantage of it".

"Owners of famous brands, like Red Bull, invest huge sums and much time and effort building-up the goodwill in their trade marks and reputations".

"Fortunately, the law recognises this, and the result here should send a clear message that free-riding on someone else's marketing strategy and investment will ultimately prove to be a false economy - as the defendants have discovered to their cost."

The client stated: "Red Bull believes strongly in its IP rights and makes legitimate use of them in order to protect its brand value".

To read the judgment in full, please click here