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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

You thought your legal qualification would save you from a job stacking shelves ...?

The IPKat is keeping an eye out for further developments in the litigation between the popular Guernsey-based UK high-street optician chain Specsavers and Wal-Mart's UK presence Asda, in a row over alleged trade mark infringement and copycat advertising. According to Times Online, Specsavers says Asda's use of the slogan "Be a real spec saver at Asda” is calculated to mislead customers and damage its business. It also objects to the use of Asda's logo (left) which, it maintains, is confusingly similar to its own (right).

Yesterday Mr Justice Kitchin (Chancery Division, England and Wales) ordered an April 2010 trial on the basis that there was sufficient evidence to believe that Asda’s campaign could threaten Specsavers’ reputation to bring the trial forward. Specsavers’ had argued that it should be held as early as January. Hugh Cuddigan (counsel for Asda) is however reported as having informed the court that its solicitors (Pinsent Masons) would need additional time to prepare their client's defence since they would be stacking supermarket shelves over Christmas. Apparently a Pinsent Masons team has agreed to work for Asda free of charge for three days during the Christmas period in order to understand its business better. Asda also preferred the later date because its lawyers planned to conduct a wide-ranging survey of Asda shoppers to determine whether they had been misled by its advertising. The IPKat interjects at this point that the Pinsent Masons website, which makes no apparent reference to this item at the time this article was posted, leads with the impressive banner "Welcome to Pinsent Masons: the Global 100 law firm that's working hard to make it easier for clients". Indeed it is.

As a gesture of Christmas goodwill, Asda plans to stop using its “Be a better spec saver” slogan after this week -- but that's about as far as the goodwill goes. The supermarket will continue using the “elliptical lozenges” logo in its stores and on its website despite Specsavers’ complaints.

By a felicitious coincidence, as the Optician reports, counsel for Specsavers is ... Adrian Speck.

The IPKat wonders what Asda would have to make its shoppers pay if it charged its shelf-stackers out at their usual hourly rates.

Merpel says, there's a copy of the just-published 9th edition of the Butterworths Intellectual Property Law Handbook for the best law firm-related caption to go with the Asda staff photo on the right. Please email your caption to the IPKat with the subject line 'Asda'. Closing date, midnight on Sunday 8 November. This competition is open even to employees of Asda and Pinsent Masons.

The End of Lawyers here

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The promises to be a really spectacular case...

Here's one of Merpel's friends focusing already on the brief...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_umMRisczbxg/SQIvQi-WQ9I/AAAAAAAAAQg/CvkWcsHEvfg/s320/Cat-CatWearingGlasses.jpg

Anonymous said...

One wonders how Asda could do this and not expect to get sued?

Peter Groves said...

Is Hugh Cuddigan in any way related to Hugo, I wonder? (Don't believe what you read in the press ...)

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