French fashion brand Lacoste has lost a trade mark dispute with a Gloucestershire dental practice, in a row over its iconic crocodile logo.
The dental practice had been using its own crocodile logo for 16 years and decided to register it as a trade mark. Lacoste objected to a registration on the grounds that it could dilute its rights on the UK register.
The French company argued that the dentists' use of a crocodile emblem might cause customer confusion, despite the dentist including the prominent words 'THE DENTAL PRACTICE' in its logo. Lacoste lost a first hearing in May last year, at which the Cheltenham-based The Dental Practice represented itself, but decided to appeal to the appointed person.
Lacoste's claims were dismissed in a document published on Tuesday, upholding the original decision. Lacoste had argued the prominent wording was descriptive and should not be viewed as part of the logo, which was rejected.
Marks & Clerk, the leading patent and trade mark attorneys, represented The Dental Practice in its appeal.
Gareth Jenkins, Trade Mark Attorney at Marks & Clerk, comments: “The lynchpin of any trade mark is typically customer confusion. Although Cheltenham seems a far cry from the multinational Lacoste, it has every right to seek protection of its brand exclusivity."
"This was anything but a clear-cut case. Lacoste had been granted blanket coverage for its crocodile emblem in a Community registration which included “medical services”. It was the combination of the differences between these two crocodile emblems, the prominent words in the dentist's logo and plain common sense that saw this appeal rightly dismissed. The only association these dentists ever wanted its customers to make was with teeth.”
The dentist's logo, as seen in its welcome sign, depicts a dazzlingly white crocodile smile. The famous Lacoste logo, as adorned on many a Polo shirt across the globe, typically shows a bright red tongue, silhouette of a crocodile's jaws and a knobbly reptilian back – all absent from the dentists' sign.