Logos and No-gos: Oops, boop-oop-a-doop!

03 April 2014

Unauthorised merchandising found not to be mere embellishment.

In this briefing we examine the impact that the recent High Court case of Hearst Holding Inc & Anor v A.V.E.L.A. Inc and Ors [2014] EWHC 439 (Ch) may have on merchandisers and licensors who use on clothing, and/or license, unauthorised famous images and words.

The claimants, who claimed to be the successors of the originator of the Betty Boop character, brought trade mark infringement and passing off proceedings against the defendants for their use of Betty Boop imagery and "Boop" vocabulary. The case is another example, following the recent High Court decision against Topshop for passing off regarding its sale of unauthorised Rihanna t-shirts, of the courts not tolerating "free riding" off personalities' images (both cartoon and celebrity).