REEF LOSE COURT BATTLE

A surf clothing company who sell sandals under the name Reef Brazil win their appeal...

REEF have lost a High Court trademark battle to use their name on promotional items, with a judge finding in favour of a surf clothing company who sell sandals under the name REEF BRAZIL.

The West Country rockers had an application to trademark their name for use on promotional gear including T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, headbands, badges, buckles, tie-clips, buttons and ornaments accepted by the Registrar of Trademarks in 1996, despite opposition from clothing firm South Cone Inc, who make the sandals.

The company’s appeal on the grounds that the trademark of the name “Reef” was too similar to their own trademark – which has “Reef” in large letters and “Brazil” in very small letters underneath – was accepted by Mr Justice Pumphrey at the High Court in London on the grounds that the Registrar of Trademarks had failed to take into account the similarity between the markets to which the sandals and Reef‘s music appealed.

The judge cited extensive coverage in the music press that revealed the band’s love for surfing, including a report that they “did the surf-rock-god bit in a Sony Minidisc advert”.

Finding that the band itself was promoted as a band of interest to surfers, he said: “I conclude from this that there is a substantial overlap in the group of potential customers targeted by Reef and South Cone.”

He said that Reef‘s trademark consisted of a “prominent, and potentially distinctive, part of the opponent’s mark” and that there was “a likelihood of confusion between the marks”, therefore they should not have been entitled to trademark their logo.