Manchester business lodges trademark claim against Bentley Motors

Bentley Motors

A Manchester business has launched a legal claim against Bentley Motors over the ownership of a clothing trademark, the latest move in a lengthy dispute with the luxury carmaker.

Brandlogic, which owns the Bentley 1962 clothing brand and whose registered trademark goes back to 1982, issued the claim in the High Court, seeking an injunction to stop Bentley Motors’ use of the name Bentley for the sale of clothing in the UK.

Brandlogic has been in a trademark row with Bentley Motors since 2000 after the carmaker was acquired by Volkswagen two years earlier.

Christopher Lees, a director of family-run Brandlogic, said the Bentley clothing brand has been established since 1962 and its registered trademarks precede the carmaker selling clothing by many years.

At its peak in the early to mid-1990s, the Bentley brand generated £5 million of sales a year, but Mr Lees said that the “chances of achieving those levels of sales have been badly hampered by Bentley Motors’ persistent infringements” over the trademark.

The company’s sales are currently less than £100,000 a year.

The file was lodged last year and Mr Lees said he had hoped to resolve the trademark issue “amicably, but Bentley Motors has refused”.

Bentley Motors tried to cancel the company’s trademark in the UK, however the Intellectual Property Office ruled in Mr Lees’s favour.

“We have no desire to harm Bentley Motors, an important British engineering company, which will have many decent and highly skilled employees,” Mr Lees said.

“We didn’t want to have to sue Bentley Motors to protect our long-held trademark rights, but their dismissive attitude has left us with no choice.

“It is a matter of principle, but also their infringements have done serious harm to my business.

“For my business to survive, and to grow again, we have no choice but to take this legal action.”

Mr Lees indicated that Bentley Motors is keen to expand into clothing, as bigger rivals Aston Martin and Ferrari have become more than just carmakers by selling merchandise.

“Bentley Motors’ refusal to help find an amicable solution will ultimately mean my company’s action might block Bentley Motors from continuing their efforts to move into other merchandise such as clothing. This matter has been very badly managed by Bentley Motors; it has badly damaged our business and now it might damage theirs,” Mr Lees said.

“My company’s High Court action could preclude Bentley Motors from ever expanding into a lucrative business line and may stop it from ever achieving a company valuation anywhere near that of Aston Martin.”

In a statement, Bentley Motors said: “We are disappointed to have reached this stage, however, Bentley Motors has been selling clothing for more than 30 years without being confused for any other brand.

“We believe we have the right to continue to do so and will defend these proceedings when they are heard in July 2019.”