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Sunday 10 April, here
The defendants agreed that they had used Yell's trade marks but, they said, this was no problem: after all, their websites were not UK-based. Didn't the judge know that they were outside outside the court's jurisdiction?
[similar marks and services plus a likelihood of confusion] and 10(3) [taking unfair advantage, without due cause of the reputation of YELLOW PAGES], but there was passing off too: while Yell's marks were undoubtedly associated with a paper directory service, the British public associated them with UK directory services in whatever form they were delivered --including online.
Says the IPKat, an interesting diversion in this actions was caused by an attempt to raise the defence that the "walking fingers" had become generic, at least when used online. This brave attempt was based on US case law as well as on evidence submitted in respect of Australia and Azerbaijan. Thus
"Mr Giboin relied on a judgment of the United States' Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the CAFC) dated 26th July 1995 in BellSouth Corporation v DataNational Corporation and others case 91-1461. The case was heard by Chief Judge Archer and Circuit Judges Rich and Mayer. BellSouth appealed from the decision of the Trade Mark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States PTO sustaining an opposition against their application to register a walking fingers logo as a design mark for classified telephone directories. The CAFC held that the "walking fingers" logo was a generic identifier of classified telephone directories in a (large) part of the USA.".Alas for the defendants, both this submission and evidence that "walking fingers" online directories existed in Australia and Azerbaijan was fatally flawed by the fact that this dispute had to be determined in the UK, under British law and in relation to the mindset of the British consumer.
Merpel notes with interest that the word "numpty" appears in the judgment. As the judge explained:
"Yell also relied on the evidence of Luke Humble. He is a specialist in online marketing and website design. He is independent of Yell. He drew Yell's attention to the defendants' websites in the first place. The purpose of this evidence from Yell's point of view is that it submits Mr Humble was misled by the defendants' websites into associating them with Yell. ... Mr Giboin described him as a numpty. For those without the benefit of a Scottish education, a numpty is a derogatory expression referring to an ignorant stupid person. ...". EWHC 2375 (QB), a Queen's Bench ruling of Richard Parkes QC, sitting as an additional High Court judge. Merpel observes that it is only necessary to explain the meaning of this word in County Court proceedings, since those engaged in High Court litigation, being better informed and probably able to converse with one another in Latin, are probably familiar with this term of art. Curiously, since the word is said to be Scottish, a search of the Scottish Courts database reveals no use of the n-word, either in its singular or plural form.