A luxury automaker has lost a trademark battle to a small clothing company with the same name. This case illustrates the “use it or lose it” principle of trademark law. That is, if you do not actively use your trademark for the goods or services you registered it for, you can lose the rights to that trademark to someone who uses the TM.
Manchester-based Bentley Clothing company of less than 10 employees has filed to register the “Bentley” trademark with the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (“UK IPO”) for clothing and retail services. Bentley Motors objected to that on the grounds that it had registered that mark for a variety of goods, including bags and jewelry. Bentley Motors argued that, even though it does not have a specific registration for garments, it has used the “Bentley” mark in connection with garments and accessories since 1920. However, the UK IPO trademark hearing officer George W. Salthouse ruled that Bentley Motors failed to provide any evidence of use of the “Bentley” name in connection with garments and the sale of garments. Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin sell clothing ranges but Bentley Motors does not have a significant reputation as a clothing manufacturer. Therefore, Bentley Clothing was allowed to use the mark “Bentley” for clothing.