This case was a simple trademark infringement and passing off case, which was won by the claimants. Although the judgement doesn’t say, I think I’ve worked out why this case was defended despite the risk of losing.
The Claimant, Fit Kitchen, sells ready meals online customised to the customers macronutrient (macros) requirements. It was started in 2015 and a trademark registered in 2016.
The Defendant’s main defence appears to be a claim that the trademark was not valid, because it was registered in a period in which technically the claimant company had been struck off at companies house for failing to file paperwork.
Between December 2016 and January 2019, the Defendant sold its products under the Fit Kitchen name through supermarkets. They looked like this:
The Defendant’s Defence, as quoted, was not drafted by their barrister at the Trial and it does appear to be lacking. The Defendant’s didn’t have any witness evidence either. Their Defence was purely technical, and was unsuccessful.
The Court considered all the usual legal points for trademark infringement and then passing off, and the Claimant won the case (in a limited way – the sales of Fit Kitchen were low and he did not find they had built up a reputation in the mark)
The Judgement doesn’t say, but I suspect the Defendant was ordered to pay damages, or an account of profit, to the Claimant along with legal costs.
A case like this, simple as it was, shows exactly why when faced with trademark infringement or intellectual property law cases, you need an expert Leicester solicitor as well as solid commercial and pragmatic advice. I am in no way saying the Defendant’s solicitors weren’t specialist, by the way, as it looks like from their website that they are. Their defence was a technical defence, and I suspect they had advised their client that it was worth a shot, understandably, and presumably because the Defendant had much to lose. The Claimant’s business turned over not much at all – £22k in 2016 with a balance sheet of a couple of hundred pounds and yet the Defendant’s business has over a £1million net asset position. With the Defendant selling through supermarkets, perhaps it was considerably more successful that the Claimant’s business, and that’s why it was worth defending the claim.
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