Black cab firm fails to overturn trademark ruling

The London Taxi Company has failed in its bid to overturn a High Court ruling which found that black cabs were not distinctive enough to be a trademark.

Court of Appeal Judges Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice Floyd agreed with the January 2016 ruling that the shape of the cars lacked “distinctive character” and was not a “valid registered trademark”.

However, Lord Justice Floyd indicated that the case may be considered in the Supreme Court.

The London Taxi Company – now known as the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) – sought to have the judgment overturned so that it could claim “exclusive rights” to the famed London black cab, it is reported.

The LEVC had alleged that rival cab firm Frazer-Nash and Ecotive had deliberately created an electric-powered cab that resembles its fleet. As a result of the ruling the automotive partners will now have a clear path to starting production of their own model.

Despite this competition, LEVC launched its own electric cab in October, after Chinese parent firm Geely invested £325 million into the company.

Notwithstanding taxis, electric vehicles will likely become a common sight in the capital over the next few years, as the severity of anti-emissions measures increase to deter drivers from bringing their cars into central London.

There are a number of ways your product designs can be protected, but highlighting the distinctive nature of your ideas is essential and sets out the elements which cannot be imitated by other parties. If you have any concerns about protecting your intellectual property portfolio, contact a member of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s experienced IP team.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.