Jaguar Land Rover Seen Off by Small Business in Trade Mark Dispute

The careful scrutiny given to trade mark applications applies to multinationals with just the same rigour as it does to modest businesses. In a High Court case on point, a small company successfully blocked Jaguar Land Rover Limited’s bid to establish exclusive use of a sign in the form of the letters ‘LR’.

Jaguar Land Rover already owned the trade marks ‘Jaguar’ and ‘Land Rover’ and wished to add ‘LR’ to its intellectual property portfolio. However, its application to register the mark was resisted by a company which traded under the name ‘LR Motors’. The latter operated a single showroom, but conducted a nationwide trade in iconic second-hand Land Rover Defender vehicles.


LR Motors said that the proposed mark would confuse its customers, jeopardise its goodwill and amount to a misrepresentation to the public amounting to passing off. Those arguments were sufficient to persuade an officer acting on behalf of the Registrar of Trade Marks, who refused Jaguar Land Rover’s application.


In dismissing Jaguar Land Rover’s appeal against that ruling, the Court could detect no flaw in the officer’s decision. It noted that the car manufacturer accepted that LR Motors had established goodwill in its name. It was also common ground that Jaguar Land Rover had never used the initials ‘LR’ as a sign to denote its goods in the UK.


LR Motors was concerned to maintain its reputation as an independent retailer, unconnected to Jaguar Land Rover, and there was no evidence to support the car manufacturer’s assertion that it would be obvious to anyone that the letters ‘LR’ in ‘LR Motors’ was a reference to Land Rover.