The English courts were recently asked to restrict fashion retailer ASOS’ use of its brand name, in particular in the context of its online trading operations as ASOS.com. The claim had been brought by ASSOS, a Swiss based manufacturer of cycling clothes. In 2005 ASSOS had registered a Community Trademark in respect of clothing, headgear and footwear and it objected to ASOS selling clothes under an almost identical name.
The general rule of brand protection is that the proprietor of a trademark can stop competitors from using the same or a similar name if it is likely that the public will wrongly associate the competitors’ products with the protected brand. Once a trademark is registered it will block any subsequent application by others in respect of similar products and services provided that the trademark proprietor actively trades under the relevant name. A trademark can be revoked if it has been registered to simply prevent others from carrying on business under this name.