Manchester clothing firm wins Bentley Motors trademark battle
A clothing business has won a trademark battle against luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors.
A High Court judge ruled the Cheshire car company had infringed the trademark rights of Manchester-based Bentley Clothing by using the Bentley name on its own range of goods.
Bentley Motors will no longer be able to use the name on its clothing range in the UK.
It said it was "extremely disappointed" and would be considering an appeal.
Bentley Motors will also have to limit its future clothing range to "jackets, silk ties, caps and scarves" and will not be allowed to sell other types of clothing or headgear.
The dispute has been ongoing since Bentley Clothing, founded in 1962, approached the Volkswagen-owned car firm in 1998. The High Court action was launched in 2017.
Bentley Motors also brought unsuccessful attempts to cancel the clothing firm's trademark rights at the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Judge Richard Hacon said the evidence gave the "strong impression" that from around 2000 Bentley Motors made a "conscious decision" to develop the use of Bentley in relation to its clothing range.
He said the car manufacturer first began selling clothing in 1987 and that, for a time, there was "honest concurrent use" of the trademark.
He ruled the car firm's moves in later years amounted to a "steady encroachment on Bentley Clothing's goodwill" in the trademark.
The judge said his impression of Bentley Motors' policy was reinforced by its efforts to cancel the clothing firm's trademark.
Bentley Clothing director Christopher Lees said: "It's been ruinous, financially and emotionally, and today's decision is a huge relief."
His lawyers said Bentley Motors may now have to pay damages and would also have to either hand over or destroy any items in its possession which infringe the trademark.
Bentley Motors said: "We have been selling clothing for more than 30 years in the UK and at no point has there been any evidence of confusion with another company's trademark."