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Catering company loses ‘what's-in-a-name' legal battle

18 September 2009
Catering company loses ‘what's-in-a-name' legal battle

A thriving Kent catering company, which began life as a single cafe in Gravesend in 1983, has lost a "what's-in-a-name?" trademark battle with an international discount supermarket chain.

Norma's Catering Ltd of the Guardhouse, Anchor Wharf, the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, had applied to register its Norma's logo as a trademark for exclusive exploitation across a range of café and catering services, as part of its plans to franchise its name across the country.

However, German company Norma Lebensmittelfilialbetrieb GmbH & Co KG, the proprietor of the Norma cut-price supermarket chain, took objection to the move.

Now the German chain, which has a range of its own Norma trademarks registered, has convinced the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to reject the Chatham firm's application.

IPO official Edward Smith backed its claim that there would be a likelihood of confusion amongst customers who might think the two enterprises were linked.

He said that Norma's Catering was originally established as Norma's Cafe in Gravesend, Kent in 1983, providing café, delivery and general catering services to the domestic and business sectors.

He continued: "They became a limited company in 2006 and services are offered via a website, www.normascatering.co.uk.

"They receive up to one thousand food orders per day and have plans to extend the business beyond the base in the South East and to franchise the Norma's brand throughout the UK. NC's brand is particularly targeted towards the office worker and its main source of income is derived from deliveries of lunch time meals to clients' work places.

"They also cater for private (including corporate) functions and provide event management, venturing into the yacht industry offering catered cruises for small parties."

This, he said, meant that Norma's Catering was seeking to register its logo as a trademark in respect of a range of identical services to those for which the German company's Norma trademark has already been registered.

Rejecting the application, he said: "I conclude there is a likelihood of confusion and the opposition succeeds."

He ordered Norma's Catering to pay the German company £1,500 towards its costs of opposing the application.

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By UK Law News

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