The claimant, an American company claimed in passing off against the defendant. It had come into the UK market and established a free service under the name. The defendant had operated a paid for service under the same name from some time before.
Held: The claim should proceed, but an interim injunction was refused. In passing off, the words claimed to establish a reputation in the goods had to be more than descriptive. Words which might once have been distinctive could become descriptive by general usage, as had happened in this case. The common stock of language conception was becoming increasingly difficult to apply. Here the use of the word ‘efax’ had become descriptive. Any confusion or association between the two companies arose from the common meaning of the words and not from any reputation in the name belonging to the claimant.
Times 16-Mar-2000, Unreported, 25 January 2000
Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.80268