MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder Martin Lewis has won summary judgment in the High Court – against a cold calling company – for infringement of his trade marks. This means that Mr Lewis does not have to run to the expense of a full trial on the matter, the evidence in his favour being sufficiently strong.
The claim came about as a result of a cold calling campaign by Client Connection Ltd. (CCL) to promote its claims service for mis-sold payment protection insurance. The MSE website provides a wide range of financial advice, including assistance with reclaiming mis-sold payment protection insurance. Mr Lewis claimed that his MSE trade mark rights had been infringed by CCL in three ways. Firstly, that CCL had used the words ‘money saving expert’ when cold calling prospective customers. Secondly, that use of the similar words ‘money claiming expert’ by CCL had the potential to cause confusion in the market. Thirdly, that CCL took unfair advantage of the reputation and distinctive character of the MSE trade mark.
Several witness statements painted a picture of CCL operatives calling and stating they were representing ‘Money Claiming Expert’ or words to that effect. The statements suggested that in some cases there was confusion as to whether or not the caller represented MSE.
CCL argued at the hearing that not all of the witnesses were confused, and that some clearly understood that the caller was not from MSE. However, the judge ruled that it was irrelevant whether or not witnesses were actually confused. What counts in trade mark law is whether or not members of the public are likely to be confused.
Although the judge found that there was insufficient evidence for summary judgment that words identical to the trade mark were used in the cold calling campaign, he held that there was enough evidence of confusion as to whether or not the cold callers were calling on behalf of MSE. This, and what the judge saw as CCL ‘riding on the coat tails of the claimant’s registered mark and benefiting from its power of attraction, its reputation and its prestige’, won the day for Mr Lewis.
Click here for information on registering a trade mark.