The High Court has found that the use by a car rental company, Europcar, of its “e” logo infringed a Community trade mark also incorporating the letter “e” and registered in relation to car rental services. The High Court also found Europcar liable in passing off.
Interestingly, the judge ruled that, when assessing of the likelihood of confusion in the UK, the relevant public could include residents of a foreign country. Similarly, in passing off, it appears that a claimant can rely on the deception of customers who are resident abroad.
On the face of it, the court’s finding of a likelihood of confusion was surprising given the low similarity of the two marks. However, the decision illustrates the importance of the context in which the mark is used.