While awaiting judgement on his case vs easyGroup, Mr Pons has hit the news again – twice – with his Vivastreet business.
Further to the easyGroup press release dated 8th November 2017 concerning the High Court ( Chancery division) trademark case between Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (www.stelios.org) and Mr Yannick Pons, a French businessman and owner of the Vivastreet website, easyGroup, Sir Stelios’ private investment vehicle and owner of the easy family of brands (www.easy.com) has issued the following update:
Last November an intellectual property (IP) and trade marks case between Sir Stelios and Mr Pons and his Jersey Channel Islands registered company called “W3 ltd” was heard at the High Court in London concerning the alleged unauthorised use of the easy brand by Mr Pons in his “easyRoommate business in about 10 European countries. During the two week trial, part of the Court’s time was spent scrutinizing the activities of the Mr Pons’ adult services website “Vivastreet”, also owned by his Jersey-registered company “W3”. During witness cross-examination it emerged Vivastreet is a highly profitable business paying W3’s shareholders (mainly Mr Pons) a circa £12m dividend – tax free – from the Chanel Island whilst Mr Pons lives in London. In effect the Vivastreet business is funding the legal costs of Mr Pons’ easy trade mark litigation, which to date has cost each side about £1.4m in legal fees.
Mr Justice Arnold, presiding over the trade mark case, has withheld judgement and indicated it will be issued in January 2018.
Sir Stelios said:
“We remain optimistic about the outcome of this trade mark dispute which will give some useful guidance on some complex legal IP issues. We will comment further after the judgement is published.”
In the meantime, two separate criminal court cases have since become public knowledge: In both these two cases, Mr Pons’ Vivastreet has attracted more unfavourable publicity. The relevance of these cases to the easy trademark case is that Mr Pons cross-promotes Vivastreet with his unauthorised easybranded websites such as easyRoommate and easyPiso etc. which easyGroup argues it tarnishes the easy brand.
On 22nd December 2017, Vivastreet was criticized by Judge Robert Altham at Preston Crown Court when passing judgement against a gang.
The Judge said:
“No-one, including those who make a profit from Vivastreet, could have been left in any doubt prostitution services were being offered.”
1. 22/12/2017 – dailymail.co.uk
2. 22/12/2017 – lancashiretelegraph.co.uk (Photo Gallery)
3. 21/12/2017 – lancashiretelegraph.co.uk
Police and CPS statements surrounding the Preston convictions can be found here:
In a second separate case in as many months (17 November 2017 ) at Warwick Crown Court, a jury found three men guilty, having heard the gang used Vivastreet to procure her clients.
Judge Murray Creed is due to pass sentence on 8th January 2018.
1. 17/11/2017 – independent.co.uk
The three relevant Warwick Crown Court case numbers:
• T2016 0436 (Cairns)
• T2017 7022 (McNally)
• T2016 7462 (Sharples)
Please click here for PDF Version.
Notes for editors:
1) The intellectual property case between Sir Stelios and Mr Pons was initiated in 2015 by Mr Pons as an “unjustified threats” action against easyGroup Ltd concerning trademarks. After two and a half years of legal wrangling the Judge was asked by easyGroup to stop Mr Pons from using the “easy” brand to procure customers for his temporary accommodation services businesses across about 10 European countries. Sir Stelios has had a long standing policy goal to prevent the unauthorised use of the “easy” brand within markets currently served by his “easy” family of trademarks. The lawsuit also names Mr Pons’ Jersey, CI incorporated off-shore holding company with the non-descript name “W3”.