No wrestling or hugging is the second of the Queensberry Rules, which did so much to give the sport of boxing that has provided the veneer of respectability that masks so much of the seamy side of this often sordid sport. Named after the Marquess of Queensberry, these Rules called for contests to be fair -- but it was the impartiality of a High Court judge, applying some basic intellectual property principles, that was needed in the case described below.
Boxing Brands Ltd v Sports Direct International plc and other companies  EWHC 2200 (Ch), a Chancery Division decision from Mr Justice Birss on 25 July, is the latest boxing-brand litigation to hit the headlines. After endless manoeuvrings and sparring between two heavyweight contestants in the Lonsdale litigation [on which see, eg, earlier katposts here and here -- and click here for Lonsdale's boxing significance], this Kat was expecting Queensberry [click here for boxing significance] to go a full 15 rounds -- but the referee seems to have stopped the fight at the end of the second. The first round, in which interim relief was sought, went to the claimant -- and the result of the second round, almost entirely in favour of the claimant -- makes it look implausible that a third round appeal will be allowed. [Katnote: an earlier version of this post muddled the words 'claimant' and 'defendant' and made total nonsense. Apologies!]
So what happened in the Queensberry case? It runs something like this.
|Not boxing cats but boxed-in cats ...|
"Over the years Mr Warren has been involved in a number of court proceedings both here and in the USA. In cross-examination Mr Wyand put a number of judgments from previous cases in which Mr Warren's evidence was not believed. One was a dispute between himself or his company Sports Network and the boxer Joe Calzaghe, the other was a case in the Southern District of New York regarding the boxer Mike Tyson. Mr Warren maintained vigorously that he had not been lying on either of those previous occasions despite the findings of the judges. In my judgment the correct thing to do in the light of these earlier judgments is to be more wary than I might otherwise be about the evidence of the witness, but ultimately to approach the evidence on its own merits. The fact that Mr Warren has not been believed before does not mean he cannot or should not be believed on this occasion.Boxing Cats (drawn to the attention of this blogger by Howard Knopf of Excess Copyright fame) here
However considering Mr Warren's testimony on its own merits, there were elements of it which I did not find convincing. He maintained he had never seen a business sale agreement which was to have been the basis on which Mr La Mura and Mr Goodwin were to work together with Mr Warren's organisation and would acquire 10% of a Gibraltar registered company set up for Mr Warren as part of the arrangements. Given the importance of that agreement, I thought that was unlikely. Separately, his evidence about the negotiations relating to sponsorship deals between the Gibraltar company and certain boxers was unconvincing. However standing back and looking at his evidence overall, the thrust of Mr Warren's evidence was supported by the documents and in my judgment he was setting out an essentially truthful account. That does not mean I accept every detail of his evidence but I thought the broad thrust was true".
How to be believed here
Cat in a box here and (for intellectuals) here
Queensberry Rules here
Queensbury: a fascinating exercise in naming a locality in London, here