Fair or unfair? That is the question.
Screen shots from Land Rover’s and British Northwest Rover’s Web sites
Plaintiff Land Rover is the well-known luxury-utility vehicle manufacturer from England.
Defendant British Northwest Rover, Ltd., is an Olympia, Wash.-based company that provides restoration and maintenance services of Land Rover vehicles.
On Aug. 1, Land Rover sued British Northwest Rover in the Western District of Washington, claiming that the defendant’s use of “Rover” in its name — and “Land-Rover” in its alleged former name, “British Northwest Land-Rover Co.” — constitutes trademark infringement and trademark dilution.
Will defendant’s alleged use of plaintiff’s trademarks turn out to be nominative fair use that simply communicates the type of vehicle that it restores and repairs? Or does its alleged use go too far, creating a likelihood of misleading the public into believing that it has some sort of affiliation with or permission from Land Rover, such as offering services that Land Rover endorses or authorizes?
The answer to those questions probably will dictate how the case turns out.
Defendant has not yet answered plaintiff’s complaint.
The case cite is Land Rover v. British Northwest Rover, Ltd., No. 12-5682 (W.D. Wash.).
Seemingly ubitquitous blogger, IP solicitor, and man about town Peter Groves picks this story up from London. Interestingly, the law on fair use of a trademark appears to be much more restrictive over there.