Innocent halo caught in EU copyright wrangle

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Designers of Innocent’s ‘halo’ logo have won two EU-wide cases invalidating trademarks registered by the smoothie company.

A design company called Deepend came up with the logo when doodling in front of Innocent founder Richard Reed in response to the brief “we just need a face with a halo above it”.

Innocent agreed to pay 2% equity to Deepend for 18 months of design services. However, Deepend went bust so the equity was never transferred.

The designers have now resurfaced as Deepend Fresh Recovery to block Innocent owner Fresh Trading from registering variations of the logo as Community Trade Marks, which apply across the EU. Deepend has succeeded in persuading the Cancellation Division of the CTM Office to declare the marks invalid on the grounds that Deepend was the lawful owner of the copyright.

Innocent had argued that Deepend was not in a position to restrain the use of the logo because Innocent owned a beneficial interest in the mark. It argued that even if no agreements were signed, under UK laws of equity it was entitled to the copyright.

Reed provided a statement saying the logo was a famous mark recognised by a large proportion of UK consumers. The Cancellation Division dismissed this, ruling that Innocent had failed to prove any equity in the copyright. “There is no proof of any recognition of the mark on the market,” it said.

EIP trademark lawyer Simon Stanes said: “The ruling is surprising, given a similar UK case where copyright in a logo was transferred to Dr Martens.”

Innocent has appealed. “The law is entirely on our side in this issue and we’re confident we’ll secure a favourable resolution,” said Reed.

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