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Bentley clothing brand faces trademark battle

Sports-inspired casualwear brand Bentley is locked in a legal battle with car company Bentley Motors over the use of its registered trademarks for clothing.

The Bentley brand was established in London by Gerald Bentley in 1962 and is now owned by father and son Bob and Christopher Lees.

Once a sizeable business, Bentley now has just two stockists, Baldwins department store in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, and Total Cricket in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, and two concessions, Broadstone Mill in Stockport and Ena Mill in Wigan, both in Greater Manchester.

Following a lengthy dispute over the name, Bentley Motors, which launched its own clothing collection in 2005, has applied to have the casualwear brand’s registered trademarks cancelled, as it seeks to expand this side of its business.

The Lees family said it filed a defence to the Intellectual Property Office this week, arguing that it owns the trademarks and continues to operate the brand, albeit in a smaller form. Bentley Motors will have an opportunity to respond.

Bob Lees bought Bentley from its founder in 1991. At its peak in the early 90s the brand had a turnover of £5m and was sold in hundreds of independents across the UK, as well as Fenwick and several golf clubs.

The family also owned and manufactured luxury countrywear brand Christopher Dawes, coat brand Aldon and premium menswear supplier Churchill Reed. The business, which had a head office in Rusholme, Greater Manchester, employed about 400 people.

The entire group was put into receivership by its bank in 1997, but the family re-acquired Bentley’s IP assets a month or two later. Since then they have been trying to rebuild the brand, which is comprised of mostly men’s T-shirts, knitwear, sweaters and polo shirts.

Volkswagen bought Bentley Motors in 1998.

Bentley Motors said it could not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

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