The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court has recently ruled that whilst a solicitor had acquired a reputation in her field of expertise, that reputation was not the same as goodwill and she was therefore not entitled to bring a claim for passing off when her former partnership continued to use her name as part of a sub-practice it used for its business and then registered a trademark using that name.
The Solicitor asked for revocation of the trade mark on the basis that it was liable to mislead the public.
The partnership also defended the claim on the basis that its right to use the name was retained by the terms of its partnership agreement.
This is of significance to any partnership, professional or otherwise. If parties to a partnership wish to protect the name partnership business ( or themselves if they leave the partnership) such matters should be agreed and set out in writing at the outset to avoid litigation such as this in the future when the relationship ends by consent or otherwise.
This equally applies to any company business name in similar circumstances and there is no reason why shareholders cannot agree such matters in a shareholders agreement.
If you have found yourself in a similar dispute and require legal advice and assistance, Farleys Solicitors can help. We can provide advice on drafting shareholder agreements and partnership agreements or commercial litigation. Please contact our commercial solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.