Judge’s black cab trademark ruling ‘clears road for rivals’
22 January 2016
A judge has opened doors by ruling that the shape of a traditional London black cab is not distinctive following a trademark dispute, a legal expert has said.
Lawyer Sharon Daboul said Mr Justice Arnold’s decision clears the road for the launch of a similar-shaped “eco-friendly” taxi.
The London Taxi Company failed in a bid to claim exclusive right to the shape of the traditional cab earlier this week following a High Court hearing in London.
Ms Daboul, a specialist in trademark disputes based at law firm EIP, said the decision would clear the road for rivals.
“Many Londoners regard the black cab as an iconic London symbol,” she said.
“The High Court held that the shape of the traditional black cab is not distinctive and is merely a variation of the typical shape of a car.”
She added: “As the trademark no longer belongs exclusively to London Taxi Company, this ruling opens the door for other companies to produce similar-shaped cars and taxis, and for Metrocab to launch its eco-friendly taxi in 2016.
“Whilst we might find this ruling quite surprising, considering how recognisable the black cab is, the essential function of a trademark is to denote trade origin.
“The London Taxi Company had to convince the court that consumers would recognise the origin of the cabs by the shape alone …
“Mr Justice Arnold held that the shape must not be seen as simply a variation of the typical shape of a car.”
The same judge recently gave the thumbs-down to a bid by Nestle to register the shape of its four-finger KitKat as a trademark.
Mr Justice Arnold analysed the sweet giant’s application at a High Court hearing in London after rival Cadbury objected.
Photo from Jonathan Brady / PA Wire