Small family-run company defeats infamous Bentley Motors in successful trade mark infringement claim

A dispute that began in 1982 between Bentley Clothing, a small family-run clothing brand based in Manchester, and the iconic Bentley Motors has finally been put to rest. On 1st November 2019, The High Court ruled that the carmaker had infringed the UK trade marks of Bentley Clothing in a landmark decision in favour of the smaller company.

Bentley Clothing has held the trade marks since 1982, offering to license them to Bentley Motors in 1998. The carmaker subsequently declined and sought to cancel Bentley Clothing’s trade marks at the UK Intellectual Property Office in 2011. Bentley Motors used the Bentley trade mark to produce luxury branded clothing products. The Lees family, owners of Bentley Clothing decided to pursue matters further, claiming that the car manufacturer had crippled their business as lenders and potential stockists feared legal action.

The High Court ruled that Bentley Motors can no longer use ‘Bentley’ on its clothing. The Solicitor acting for Bentley Clothing commented: “This case shows the power of trade marks to protect the rights of even the smallest of companies against the large multinationals.”

Trade marks are vital in protecting a company’s brand, which is arguably one if it’s biggest assets. The decision in this instance showcases the importance of trade mark protection for all companies, big or small, and the value of the protection that a trade mark can provide.

For advice on how to protect your brand, please contact a member of our Intellectual Property team on 01722 412000.