Firm warns ad laws are weakened by O2 court loss


Yesterday’s European Court of Justice ruling which saw 02 lose its four-year court battle with 3 following the use of its bubbles trade mark in 2004 means companies will have less control over misuse of their brand, London firm LG Lawyers has warned.

Intellectual property lawyer at the firm Georgie Collins said: "The law relating to comparative advertising has effectively been rendered toothless by the decision. Brand owners will not be able to use trade mark legislation to either prevent a comparative advertisement through an injunction or sue in respect of its use.

"There is no provision under the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive for a trade mark owner to bring legal proceedings in its own name.

"Brand owners now have less control over the misuse of their trade marks. So far as comparative advertisements are concerned, they will instead have to rely on the Advertising Standards Authority and Office of Fair Trading – who are the enforcing bodies under the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive – to take action in respect of any alleged breaches of the Directive.

"The impact of this case will be felt most by those large brand owners in the telecoms, travel and banking services industries, where competition is high and the ranges of products and services are price sensitive."