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Bentley clothing brand wins fight against carmaker

Sports-inspired casualwear brand Bentley 1962 has won a 13-year fight with carmaker Bentley Motors over the use of its registered trademarks for clothing.

Following a lengthy dispute over the name, Bentley Motors, which launched its own clothing collection in 2005, applied to have the casualwear brand’s registered trademarks declared invalid in 2015, as it sought to expand this side of its business.

The Intellectual Property Office maintained Bentley 1962’s trademark on the register and threw out a further appeal last week.

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

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 intellectual property assets a month or two later. Since then they have been trying to rebuild the brand, which comprises mostly men’s T-shirts, knitwear, sweaters and polo shirts.

Volkswagen bought Bentley Motors in 1998.

Christopher Lees said the firm continues to infringe his trademarks as online searches bring up the car maker’s clothing lines.

“It’s ruined my company,” he said. “These trademark decisions prove only my company has right to trade clothing as Bentley, but Bentley Motors continue to use my registered trademark.”

A spokesman for Bentley Motors acknowledged the decision and said the firm is considering next steps.

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • This dispute is reminiscent of the Mercedes v Merc dispute which was also about clothing. It is a good example of how trade marks exist to protect different categories of goods and the challenges of expanding a well known brand into a new area particularly clothing where a brand already exists.

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