Brands: Trade mark validity and infringement under the 1994 Act (Philips/Remington case)

United Kingdom
Philips/Remington case


In the most significant decision on the Trade Marks Act 1994 to date, Mr Justice Jacob has given an exhaustive judgment on many aspects of trade mark validity and infringement. He ruled that Philips could not monopolise an engineering design by relying on their registered trade marks to prevent their competitor, Remington, from producing a rotary shaver of the same shape. Philips' trade mark for its shaver shape was found to be invalid on a number of grounds, primarily because it was not found to be sufficiently distinctive of Philips' products. The case will be of some concern to owners of device or "shape" marks as well as other marks which could be said to have descriptive as well as distinctive characteristics. The judgment continues the trend for the Courts to interpret the Trade Marks Act strictly so as to avoid an undue expansion of the powerful monopoly which registered trade marks offer. The case is under appeal, probably to be heard next year.