They’re known across the world for their distinctive style, but that hasn’t been enough to stop court of appeal judges ruling that the traditional London black cab isn’t a trademark.
The London Taxi Company, now renamed London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) had hoped to claim exclusive rights to the traditional black cab shape to stop a rival firm from producing similar vehicles, but they were thwarted earlier this month by Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice Floyd, who have upheld a ruling made last year by a high court judge who said the cabs’ shape was “not a valid registered trademark”.
Last year LEVC took rival firms Frazer-Nash and Ecotive to court after arguing that the design of their Metrocab was “substantially copied”, but the ruling by High Court judge Mr Justice Arnold was upheld at the Court of Appeal.
This is of course good news for Frazer-Nash and Ecotive, who say they can now press ahead with production of their electric Metrocab.
In response, the London Taxi Company has indicated that it might plan to take the case to the Supreme Court and said: “LEVC has noted the decision of the court and will be making no further comment while we review the judgment and consider our options.”
The news follows on from confectionery giant losing a similar battle over the shape of its KitKat chocolate bar, and shows how difficult it is to trademark a shape, rather than a brand name.
Meanwhile, Mondelez, the maker of Toblerone, threatened Poundland with legal action after the discount chain launched copycat Twin Peaks chocolate bar earlier this year. Retaliating, Poundland has said the triangle shape of Toblerone isn’t unique enough.
If you feel your product needs to be trademarked, but aren’t sure how to go about, please do get in touch.