After two decades spent battling it out in court, family-owned clothing company Bentley Clothing beat the iconic Bentley Motors over a trademark dispute. According to The Fashion Law, the ruling decided that Bentley Motors’ use of the name Bentley to brand apparel and accessories is against the rights held by Bentley clothing, who has been using the Bentley name for its apparel for over 30 years. Simon Bennett who represented Bentley Clothing’s corporate entity Brandlogic during the case stated that this “case shows the power of trademarks to protect the rights of even the smallest of companies against large multinationals.”
Brandlogic argued that Bentley Motors’ line of apparel infringed on Bentley Clothing’s registered trademark that gives the company exclusive rights to use the “Bentley” name for clothing and accessories, as well as “retail and wholesale services” connected with these products. After Volkswagen acquired Bentley Motors in 1998, Bentley Clothing offered Volkswagen the chance to license the Bentley name for apparel and accessories use. In response, Volkswagen attempted to have Brandlogic’s registered trademark cancelled. The automaker argued that the “use of its name for clothing was an entirely natural business spin-off for the owner of a luxury brand like Bentley.”
Fast-froward almost 20 years and the court ruled in favor of Bentley Clothing, mainly because Bentley Motors had “conducted a trademark search and been properly advised” before beginning to sell branded clothing and accessories. Thus, “it would have been told that ‘Bentley’ could not be used for knitted clothing, shirts and waistcoats” based on Brandlogic’s trademark prior to launching its products. The ruling continued to state that Bentley Motors made “a conscious decision to develop the use of ‘Bentley’ in relation to their range of clothing and headgear such as to increase the prominence of that sign, but only in incremental stages in the hope that no one stage would provoke a reaction from Bentley Clothing.”
As a result, Bentley Motors will likely be advised to stop producing apparel and accessories under the “Bentley” name. The automaker is disappointed by the result and has already alluded to a potential appeal that would prolong the case.
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