Jaguar Shoes v Jaguar Cars: Blame It On The Lawyers!

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By Alex Aldridge on

Just down the road from my crumbling flat in Hackney Legal Cheek’s Dalston studios is Jaguar Shoes, a bar and gallery. With its clientele of hipsters and ageing wannabes like myself, the place isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But the alternating art installations Jaguar Shoes hosts make it an interesting place to have a drink – and it’s basically an example of a small business run by people who care about what they do, working hard to do it well.

So I was sorry to hear yesterday that Jaguar Land Rover has launched legal proceedings against Jaguar Shoes (named after the old shoe shop it replaced) on the grounds that its name is too similar to theirs. The dispute came about after Jaguar Shoes, set up in 2001, attempted to protect its name by registering it as a trademark.

What a depressing example of corporate power using the law to stifle an up-and-coming small business – indeed, precisely the sort of business this country needs to haul itself out of recession.

Jaguar Shoes co-founder Nick Letchford lays the blame on the lawyers. He said:

“This is a point of principle for us and we will do whatever it takes to preserve the name and reputation of Jaguar Shoes…the big corporates are perfectly within their rights to seek to preserve their legitimate rights, but this just amounts to irrational and inappropriate pressure which seems to us to be designed to keep the lawyers in business rather than any proper concern from Jaguar Cars to defend its brand.”

Jaguar Land Rovers’ legal director is Keith Benjamin. Under him, works Andrew Wood, formerly of Bevan Brittan.

According to Catherine Wolfe, president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, such disputes boil down to “whether there is a risk of confusion, or of association, or of drawing a link between the trademarks in the case.”

Never have I come across anyone who has thought Jaguar Shoes may have something to do with the car manufacturer. A hearing at the Intellectual Property Office is due to be heard on June 6.

The petition to support Jaguar Shoes is here.