War over ‘confusing’ car rental logos

Posted: 16th January 2015

carsGiant car rental companies met head-to-head in court after both of them adopted a stylised lower case ‘e’ as their corporate logos. The High Court upheld trade mark infringement and passing off claims by one of them after finding that similarities between the logos created a likelihood of customer confusion.

Both logos appeared against a green background but their similarities were not so great as to mislead an average consumer who viewed them side by side. However, when the imperfection of public recollection was taken into account, there was a real risk of confusion and there was concrete evidence that it had in fact occurred.

Deciding in favour of Enterprise Holdings – which had used its ‘e’ logo for many years before Europcar Group adopted its disputed sign – the Court noted that the litigation had been conducted on a grand scale ‘as if it were a state trial’. The case had generated hundreds of pages of documents as well as satellite disputes concerning such matters as the admissibility of public survey evidence.