It's unusual for the IPKat to feel disappointed when the party in the right emerges from court as the victor, but here's a case in point: Alison J. Hendrick v Tony Knight (O-323-14), a decision of Appointed Person Geoffrey Hobbs QC back in 17 July on appeal from the UK Trade Mark Registry, is about as depressing a piece of trade mark litigation as anyone might hope to read on this weblog.
In short, the facts as established in this and earlier litigation would lead any reasonable person, in possession of his wits and faculties, to the conclusion that Tony Knight is something of a serial trade mark scoundrel. He has gone to some lengths to undermine IP rights belonging to Dame Vivienne Westwood OBE [see Westwood v Knight  EWPCC 16, noted by the IPKat here, and Westwood v Knight  EWPCC 11, noted by the IPKat here, as well as Katpost here] and this time his victim of choice was Scottish designer Alison Hendrick.
In this instance Geoffrey Hobbs QC was hearing an appeal against decisions to reject Knight's oppositions to Hendrick's applications to register a skull device mark and the word mark ARTJUNKIE. The Hearing Office had held, unsurprisingly, that Knight’s own skull device mark was invalid and he was ordered to pay costs. Knight appealed on the grounds that the Hearing Officer had failed to carry out a full and proper investigation into the evidence, some of which was lost or wrongly excluded, and that his decisions were influenced by comments made about Knight in an earlier judgment in unrelated proceedings.
The Hearing Officer had found that Hendrick was the senior user of the marks and that Knight had both copied her signs and registered his device in bad faith. As if that wasn't enough, it was held that Knight had flouted rules and directions, been aggressive in his approach to the litigation and had provided both false and unreliable evidence -- to the extent that it was appropriate to order him to pay the costs of the proceedings on an indemnity basis.
* The question of Knight's conduct was more interesting. The Appointed Person agreed that there was ample justification for the Hearing Officer’s condemnation of Knight’s approach to the conduct of the litigation, and there was no sign that statements made about Knight in an earlier, unrelated, judgment had influenced the decisions. Regarding the Registry proceedings, the Hearing Officer was justified in concluding that Knight’s failure to produce originals or better copies of evidence, despite directions to do so, meant it was inevitable that he would be regarded as the source of false and unreliable evidence. In regard to the conduct of the appeal, he had adopted much the same approach. He was tirelessly obstructive, unreliable and aggressive when challenged. Further, his account of the hearing in the proceedings at first instance was substantially inaccurate and unreliable.
This Kat is pleased that Knight's appeal was dismissed, but there was no serious possibility of it succeeding. He is however quite distressed that people like Knight, who go around filing other people's trade marks as though they are his own and then trying to grind them down through persistent, dishonest and apparently vindictive litigation, should be allowed to carry on using the trade mark system without any form of supervision. The District Court of The Hague issued an anti-trade mark filing injunction as long ago as 2011 in a comparable case (noted by the IPKat here).
|Is this true for|
Some further reading on recent cases involving naughty litigants:
- Successful claimants in design infringement action jailed for fabricating evidence: Utopia Tableware v BBP Marketing Ltd  EWHC 3483, noted by the IPKat here
- Patent owner does enough to merit being sent to prison but runs into a merciful judge: Brundle v Perry  EWHC 979. noted by the IPKat here.