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Lewis Silkin represents Enterprise Holdings in successful IP infringement claim against competitor Europcar

13 January 2015

City law firm Lewis Silkin LLP has acted for Enterprise Holdings, Inc., the world’s largest provider of vehicle rental services, in a successful trade mark infringement claim against its competitor Europcar.  The action concerned Enterprise’s ‘e’ trade mark and an ‘e’ logo adopted by Europcar.

LONDON – City law firm Lewis Silkin LLP has acted for Enterprise Holdings, Inc., the world’s largest provider of vehicle rental services, in a successful trade mark infringement claim against its competitor Europcar. The action concerned Enterprise’s ‘e’ trade mark and an ‘e’ logo adopted by Europcar.

Mr Justice Arnold’s High Court judgment, handed down today, found for Enterprise on both trade mark infringement and passing off. In making these findings, the Judge recognised that Enterprise’s ‘e’ trade mark “has an enhanced distinctive character as a result of the use which has been made of it in relation to vehicle rental services.”

The judgment gave weight to evidence that, “in the field of car rental it [the ‘e’] is ‘short hand’ for Enterprise – a brand in its own right, much in the same way that McDonald’s ‘M’ is a shorthand for them in the fast food industry.” These findings were re-affirmed by virtue of the fact that Enterprise had commissioned a survey which showed that a significant number of members of the public recognised the ‘e’ logo as being associated with Enterprise.

The judgment also notes “clear evidence of a significant level of confusion between Enterprise’s services and Europcar’s services amongst consumers of vehicle rental services.” Such confusion had been caused since Europcar introduced its own lower-case ‘e’ logo in December 2012 and there was evidence that, during 2013 and 2014, Europcar customers appeared to have mistakenly boarded the Enterprise shuttle buses at Heathrow Airport. Taking his findings on similarity and enhanced distinctiveness into account, the Judge determined that the only viable explanation for such levels of confusion was Europcar’s use of its new logo.

The Lewis Silkin team was led by partner Simon Chapman working alongside Senior Associate James Sweeting and Associates Olivia Eardley and Ned Lewis. Lewis Silkin instructed barristers Henry Carr QC and Simon Malynicz.

Today’s judgment marks the second major IP-related High Court win for Lewis Silkin in the past 12 months, following on from the landmark decision in the Lush v Amazon dispute in February 2014.

Simon Chapman, partner at Lewis Silkin LLP, said:

“Lewis Silkin was pleased to work with Enterprise on this case, and help them to secure a favourable result which ensures that there is to be clear blue water between the way that they and their competitors brand themselves.

“This case clarifies a number of points of law important for all brands, including the factors which are to be taken into consideration when assessing the degree of protection trade marks are entitled to benefit from. Today’s result is re-assuring for brand owners, particularly those who have adopted ‘short-hand’ logos for use in the digital space. If such use is sufficient for consumers to identify that logo with a brand which provides a particular service, then the brand owner may be able to enforce those rights against third parties.”

Jim Burrell, European senior vice president of Enterprise Holdings, said:

“We have invested heavily over recent years to grow the Enterprise brand in Europe and provide customers with an exceptional experience. The good reputation that we create in doing business the right way is attached to our brand, so it’s the most valuable asset that we have. Customers have the right to know who they are buying from, and what that company stands for, which is why our brand matters so much.

“This decision is especially welcomed at a time when we are growing our brand as a global business, and when demand for car rental is also expanding rapidly as people change their mobility habits. It is vital that our customers can be confident of the service and the value that they will receive every time they see the Enterprise brand.”

For more information please contact:

David Lawrence
Business Development and Marketing Manager
Tel: 020 7074 8260
Email: david.lawrence@lewissilkin.com

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