An automotive aftermarket business has won an epic three-year legal battle with industry giant Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) over the use of two letters – LR.
Twisted Automotive, based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, specialises in re-engineering the Land Rover Defender. The business’s founder, Charles Fawcett, famously purchased 240 vehicles from JLR when the manufacturer ceased production of the iconic model in January 2016.
Jaguar first attempted to register ownership of the initials ‘LR’ as a trademark three years ago after requesting Twisted refrain from using it, on the basis that it was widely understood that the letters referred to Land Rover.
Twisted opposed JLR’s attempt to register ‘LR’ as a trademark in view of alleged earlier rights, having been trading as LR Motors since November 2015 and therefore having acquired goodwill under the sign. It was alleged that the use of the trademark applied for would be a misrepresentation to the public and result in damage to that goodwill.
Following an earlier hearing at the UK Intellectual Property Court in May 2018, the UK Trade Mark Office ruled in favour of Twisted; however, JLR lodged an appeal with the High Court against the decision. This appeal was rejected following a hearing in December 2018, when Mrs Justice Rose said the underlying assumption that everyone realised the initials ‘LR’ in LR Motors referred to Land Rover was merely an assertion by Jaguar, with no supporting evidence.
Despite the previous ruling, JLR lodged a second appeal but this too was rejected by the Court of Appeal on March 21 this year. The Rt Hon Justice Floyd stated that there were no new factual grounds for appeal, and that this was merely an attempt to re-argue a case that had failed previously.
Speaking after the decision, Charles Fawcett said: “This ruling by the Court of Appeal represents a key victory for us as ‘the little guy’ against an industry giant. I very much see it as a small victory for the whole automotive aftermarket industry as well as for Twisted Automotive.
“Sometimes it’s just about being right, being confident you are right and sticking to your guns. A big budget isn’t necessarily what it takes.
“We have worked hard to give the Defender a legacy befitting its status as a true icon of British motoring. The work of our team over the last two decades has helped boost the profile and demand for the Defender, even now more than three years after JLR stopped making it.”
Louise Handley of 3volution, Twisted’s legal advisors, added: “We are of course delighted with the outcome. Twisted has been extremely stoic throughout this lengthy process, many other businesses would have been put off. Regardless of the size of company or the resources available to them, this case highlights just what can be achieved by being tenacious and working smart.”2nd April 2019