27 January 2020TrademarksEdward Pearcey

Shopkeeper challenges Sainsbury’s with ‘Singh’sbury Local’ store

A UK shopkeeper has opened a store called ‘Singh’sbury Local’, and faces a likely backlash from a similarly-named national supermarket giant.

Mandeep Singh Chatha opened the small store in Wolverhampton in December last year, after registering the business with Companies House in November, under the name ‘ Singhsbury Local Off License Ltd’.

He claims the name derives from his address, Bushbury Road, and his his name, Singh, and that any relation to the famous supermarket is purely coincidental.

The sign on the front of Chatha has orange lettering, and uses a typeface that appears to be very similar to that used by Sainsbury’s, which operates more than 2,300 stores in the UK.

“I have heard nothing from a supermarket which has a similar name,” said Singh, speaking to a UK news outlet, “so I see no problem with it. It’s a different logo, a different colour, a different company. I don’t want any controversy from [Sainsbury’s].”

“The nearest Sainsbury’s is a couple of miles away, so it’s not exactly close and we are certainly not competition,” claimed Chatha.

However, John Coldham, an IP partner at multinational law firm Gowling WLG, argued that “it is clear that [Chatha] had Sainsbury's in mind when he created his shop’s sign, and wanted his customers to do so too. If he really did not, it is naive of any business not to have a commercial awareness where IP protection rights and branding are concerned and he should perhaps have done some checks.”

“Whilst some consumers would see the shop and see Mr Chatha’s playful mimicry and perhaps no harm is done, others would see the shop and dash in thinking it was Sainsbury’s – at least initially. This is not giving consumers a free choice,” he added.

Sainsbury’s has previously threatened legal action against other businesses who have tried similar tactics.

In June 2017, a north of England shopkeeper who opened a store called ‘Singhsbury’s’ was reportedly threatened with legal action, and changed the name to ‘Morrisinghs’, something which UK supermarket chain Morrisons didn’t object to.

Sainsbury’s has been contacted for comment.

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22 August 2019   The UK Intellectual Property Office on Monday threw out a trademark opposition brought by UK supermarket Sainsbury’s.