Distinction between reputation and goodwill
The claimant had practised independently as an employment solicitor. For a period, she was a partner with the defendant firm practising under the name ‘Bhayani Bracewell’. Having departed the firm, she now objected to the continued use of her name, alleging passing off, and requesting revocation of the associated trade mark.
Held: The application for summary dismissal of the claim succeeded. The court identified the distinction between professional reputation and goodwill.
as to members of the legal professions: ‘Leaving aside sole practitioners, the public are well aware that a solicitor, whether employed or an equity partner, is not a free agent. His or her performance will be both assisted and constrained by the terms of employment or partnership and by the advice and pressure exerted by colleagues. Ultimately the quality of services of any individual solicitor is guaranteed by the firm. If the quality falls short, any compensation is available from the firm, not the individual solicitor. The goodwill generated by a solicitor’s work qua solicitor vests in the firm. In my view Ms Bhayani has no realistic prospect of establishing that in law she owns goodwill on which to base a case of passing off against Taylor Bracewell.’
Goodwill: ‘is to be distinguished from reputation which exists by itself. A solicitor celebrated for his or her expertise may enjoy the highest possible reputation and this will be personal, attaching only to that individual. But reputation alone cannot form the basis of an action for passing off, no matter how high the wattage of celebrity.’
 EWHC 3360 (IPEC)
Trade Marks Act 1994 46(1)(d)
England and Wales
Approved – Easyair Ltd (T/A Openair) v Opal Telecom Ltd ChD 2-Mar-2009
Principles Applicable on Summary Judgment Request
The court considered an application for summary judgment.
Held: Lewison J set out the principles: ‘the court must be careful before giving summary judgment on a claim. The correct approach on applications by defendants is, in my judgment, as . .
Cited – AC Ward and Son v Catlin (Five) Ltd and Others CA 10-Sep-2009
The defendant insurers appealed against refusal of summary judgment in its favour in defending a claim under a policy. The claimants premises had been burgled. The insurer said that the claimant had failed to respect warranties given by it as to . .
Cited – Swain v Hillman CA 21-Oct-1999
Strike out – Realistic Not Fanciful Chance Needed
The proper test for whether an action should be struck out under the new Rules was whether it had a realistic as opposed to a fanciful prospect of success. There was no justification for further attempts to explain the meaning of what are clear . .
Cited – The Royal Brompton Hospital National Health Service Trust v Hammond and Others (No 5) CA 11-Apr-2001
When looking at an application to strike out a claim, the normal ‘balance of probabilities’ standard of proof did not apply. It was the court’s task to assess whether, even if supplemented by evidence at trial, the claimant’s claim was bound to fail . .
Cited – E D and F Man Liquid Products Ltd v Patel and Another CA 4-Apr-2003
The rules contained two occasions on which a court would consider dismissal of a claim as having ‘no real prospect’ of success.
Held: The only significant difference between CPR 24.2 and 13.3(1), is that under the first the overall burden of . .
Cited – ICI Chemicals and Polymers Ltd v TTE Training Ltd CA 13-Jun-2007
The Defendant had applied for summary judgment under CPR Part 24. One argument was a short point of construction. The Judge suggested the parties agree that he should decide the point as a preliminary issue. They were unwilling so he proceeded on . .
Cited – Mellor and Others v Partridge and Another CA 3-May-2013
The parties respectively appealed against refusal of summary judgment against each other. . .
Cited – Doncaster Pharmaceuticals Group Ltd and Others v The Bolton Pharmaceutical Company 100 Ltd CA 26-May-2006
Appeals were made against interlocutory injunctions for alleged trade mark infringement.
Held: The court should hesitate about making a final decision for summary judgment without a trial, even where there is no obvious conflict of fact at the . .
Cited – Leather Cloth Co Ltd v American Leather Cloth Co Ltd HL 1-Feb-1865
Where an individual works in a partnership the goodwill generated by his acts will in the normal course vest in the partnership.
Lord Kingsdown said: ‘Nobody doubts that a trader may be guilty of such misrepresentations with regard to his . .
Cited – Star Industrial Company Limited v Yap Kwee Kor trading as New Star Industrial Company PC 26-Jan-1976
(Singapore) The plaintiff Hong Kong company had manufactured toothbrushes and exported them to Singapore, for re-export to Malaysia and Indonesia, but with some local sales as well. Their characteristic get-up included the words ‘ACE BRAND’ and a . .
Cited – Asprey and Garrard Ltd v WRA (Guns) Ltd and Another CA 11-Oct-2001
The Asprey family had been in business for many years. Their business was incorporated, and later sold to the claimants. A member of the Asprey family sought to carry on new businesses through limited companies using the family name. Upon request, . .
Cited – Starbucks (HK) Ltd and Another v British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc and Others SC 13-May-2015
The court was asked whether, as the appellants contended, a claimant who is seeking to maintain an action in passing off need only establish a reputation among a significant section of the public within the jurisdiction, or whether, as the courts . .
Cited – Landa v Greenberg ChD 1908
The plaintiff journalist had contributed a weekly column for children to The Jewish Chronicle under the name ‘Aunt Naomi’. She had no contract of employment. The Chriicle sometimes made suggestions for the column, but generally she was left to her . .
Cited – Hines v Winnick ChD 1947
The defendant had been taken on by the plaintiff to conduct and play in an orchestra. The orchestra played in a radio show called Ignorance is Bliss, broadcast by the BBC. In this show the plaintiff used the name ‘Dr Crock’ as the leader of ‘Dr . .
Cited – Forbes v Kemsley Newspapers Ltd ChD 1951
The plaintiff was employed by the defendant for over four years to write weekly articles in the Sunday Times and other papers owned by the defendant. She wrote under the name ‘Mary Delane’, which was chosen for her by the defendant. Following . .
Cited – Irvine, Tidswell Ltd v Talksport Ltd ChD 13-Mar-2002
The defendants used a distorted image of the claimant, a famous racing driver, to endorse its product. He claimed damages in passing off.
Held: On the facts, the famous racing driver Eddie Irvine had a property right in his goodwill which he . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Intellectual Property, Legal Professions, Litigation Practice
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.572699