Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lacoste loses crocodile trademark row [UK]

A Gloucestershire dental practice has come out smiling after defeating fashion chain Lacoste in a dispute over a crocodile trademark.

The two dentists were challenged by the French clothing giant after using a grinning reptile as the logo on their practice’s welcome sign.

Lacoste claimed the cartoon crocodile was too similar to their own globally recognised logo, and could cause confusion among shoppers which could damage their business.

The battle began in 2004 when dentists Dr Tim Rumney and Dr Simon Moore first applied to register the new logo – a plain green crocodile with white teeth – for The Dental Practice in Cheltenham.

Lacoste objected saying it was too similar to their own green crocodile logo, which is pictured side-on with gaping red jaws.

Now, following a three year battle, the UK Intellectual Property Office judge has dismissed claims the emblems are too similar.

The dentists represented themselves at an initial hearing in May at the Intellectual Property Office in Newport, where Judge Ann Corbett ruled in the practice's favour.

But Lacoste’s legal team launched a subsequent appeal, which was finally rejected late last year.

Dr Rumney said he was "astonished" his practice had encountered such difficulties.

He said: "We are happy the situation has been resolved but astonished by the length of time it took to reach this conclusion.

"I suppose it is a big success for our business but we certainly did not regard it as taking anyone on."

He added: "We do not consider ourselves to be in the same market place at all and do not see that we are treading on any toes. We chose the sign with little second thought."

Lacoste was ordered to pay £1,000 towards the dental practice's legal costs at the initial hearing as well as a further £450 towards the costs of the second hearing.

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