Another victory for Stelios and the easy family of brands against brand theft!
A further victory for brand protection was delivered in the High Court in London on the 22nd July after Sir Stelios Haji-A further victory for brand protection was delivered in the High Court in London on the 22nd July after Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup was granted an injunction preventing a French Caribbean travel agent, Stephane Roche from using the “easyway” brand to promote his tourist services to customers in the UK.
The defendant, Stefan Roche will also have to pay legal costs to easyGroup of around £75k plus damages (based on a share of his profits and or his revenues for the last seven years) for using the easy brand without easyGroup’s permission. The quantum of the damages will be assessed later in the legal process. However, the court ordered that his website be subject to “geo-blocking” so it is not visible in the UK and he is also prohibited from offering his services to UK travel agents, customers with a .co.uk email address or any other customers that make it clear at any point during the transaction that they are located within the UK.
In his final judgement, Recorder Douglas Campbell QC found that the easy family of brands (see www.easy.com and www.easyHistory.info ) sufficiently pre-dated Stephane Roche’s use of “easyway”. This brand theft travel agency started in 2007 from the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy and was therefore found to be infringing easyGroup’s IP rights when targeting customers in the UK.
In particular, the Judge confirmed that “the fact that the services are actually offered abroad is not a defence to infringement at all, provided that the offer for services is made in the UK”.
The case was the first significant IP judgement of a UK court post- Brexit for easyGroup hence the blocking effects were limited to the UK and not the EU. easyGroup has commenced separate actions in the France (to cover EU jurisdiction) and in Puerto Rico for the USA in order to stop the brand thief completely.
The Judge refused Mr Roche’s request for permission to appeal the decision and so Mr Roche will now need to seek leave from the Court of Appeal itself.
Sir Stelios, creator and owner of the easy family of brands said:
“This judgement in effect recognizes that our easy family of brands has a monopoly of the word easy when followed by another word and used to sell travel and transport services in the UK, regardless of how far away the actual brand thief is based.
“The legitimate members of the easy family of brands ( which include easyJet, easyHotel, easyMoney and easyStorage) are paying good money to use the easy brand under licence so it is simply unacceptable for others to use it without permission and without paying a royalty.”