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London Taxi Company loses appeal to trademark black cab shape

Auto Express logo Auto Express 02/11/2017 Daniel Smith
London Taxi Company - new taxis © Auto Express London Taxi Company - new taxis

The London Taxi Company has lost an appeal to retain exclusive rights to the shape of its legendary ‘black cab’, with the Court of Appeal stating the shape is ‘not distinctive enough’.

According to news agency Press Association, the Coventry-based manufacturer - now trading as the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) - attempted to trademark its distinctive black cab shape to stop rival manufacturers producing their own black cab variants.

Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice Floyd upheld a ruling made by high court judge Mr Justice Arnold, who in January 2016 ruled that the shape was not a “valid registered trademark”.

Related: London Taxi Company winter testing (Motoring Research)

Wednesday’s case dismissal paves the way for LEVC’s rival Frazer-Nash Research, who along with Ecotive, producers of the hybrid-electric Metrocab, which bares resemblance to its LEVC black cab rival.

While the Court of Appeal dismissed the trademark case, the London Taxi Company may now take its case to the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Mike Gardner outlined how difficult it is for manufacturers to trademark its designs. He said: “The London Taxi Company has been trying to prevent a rival manufacturer from producing a new style of London taxi which it claims infringes its intellectual property rights in the original shape.” 

“The case illustrates how difficult it can be for anyone to obtain a permanent monopoly to protect the shape of something as a brand – even where that shape is iconic.”

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