In Strip Ltd v Strip Pte Ltd and Strip UK Ltd  EWHC 2070 (Ch) Mr Justice David Richards (Chancery Division, England and Wales) granted interim relief in an action for passing off brought by a celebrity waxing and depilatory business against another which, having traded in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Dubai under the names “Strip” and “Strip Co-Ed”, was about to open up in London under the name "Strip Co-Ed" and was just one day away from its launch party. The claimant had traded as "Strip" in London since 2005 and was the only local business to do so. The invading depilators had traded under their names since 2002.
Could the claimant legitimately seek to monopolise the word "Strip"? The judge thought so:
"22. Mr. Baldwin [for the defendants] submits further that any loss of business which is associated with the name “Strip” is not capable of protection by the law of passing off because in connection with depilatory services the word “strip” is no more than descriptive and that it has no real distinctive quality. ...The judge accepted that there was a real prospect of damage to the claimant if no interim injunction were granted, and a real prospect of damage to the defendants if it were. The clincher was the fact that the claimant was already trading in London but the defendants weren't. He added:
23. On this interim application, I am satisfied that the claimant has a very serious argument to the effect that the word “Strip” in this context – I say absolutely nothing of completely different businesses – is, or may well be distinctive and is not simply a descriptive term".
"29. ... The fact that [the defendants' business] is due to open this week and this application is being heard the day before the launch party is, in my view on the evidence before me, the almost exclusive responsibility of the defendants".Says the IPKat, this was basically because, while there was a history between the parties in relation to trade mark opposition and invalidation proceedings, the defendants didn't invite the claimant to their launch party, and certainly didn't keep the claimant fully informed about its launch plans. Merpel adds, if counsel for the defendants had succeeded on behalf of its depilatory client, it would definitely be a case of a Bald-Win. Indeed, adds Tufty, something to wax lyrical about.
This decision is not yet on BAILII but you can read it here. Thank you, Douglas Campbell (Three New Square), for tipping the Kat off.