Mangsaab /
22 September 2014Trademarks

Community college fails in passing off claim

A UK college that accused a local rival of passing off has had its claims thrown out by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC).

Cranford Community College (CCC), in Cranford, West London, which told WIPR it was "dissapointed" by the ruling, had accused nearby Cranford College Ltd (CCL) of passing off and misrepresentation.

Both colleges use birds in their logos and have blue writing: CCC uses a crane while CCL uses a pigeon. The buildings are around 800 meters apart, according to the judgment.

But despite the similar logos, the claim brought by CCC did not concern the design.

Instead, CCC sought a declaration that the CCL trademarks were invalidly registered and that its company name, domain names and trademarks were “instruments of deception”.

In its complaint, CCC said the words “Cranford College” were distinctive of its educational services in that part of London, and that consequently it owned goodwill associated with them.

It claimed that any use of the same name was misrepresentation and damage, and demanded that the name be changed and that the domain names, and along with registered trademarks assigned to CCC should be transferred to it.

Established in 1975, CCC is a state secondary school in the Hounslow area of West London.

CCL is a privately-owned college that offers courses for students of post-school age and was set up in 2010.

In his judgment, IPEC judge Richard Hacon wrote that, to back the claims up, CCC must show that “Cranford College” had acquired a secondary meaning among the relevant public, in that it referred only to CCC and would not be taken to refer to any other educational establishment.

The judgment included statements from staff workers who said that, while the school was often referred to as Cranford College, it was never called just Cranford.

“This has not been proved on the evidence and therefore the first element of passing off, goodwill, has not been established,” Hacon wrote.

He added: “I do not believe that there has been or that there is any likelihood of a misrepresentation by CCL, or that CCC owns goodwill of a nature such that a misrepresentation could arise. I therefore dismiss the action.”

A CCC spokesman said: “The school will continue taking measures to minimise confusion between Cranford Community College and Cranford College.”

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