The University of Law has lost major parts of a trademark dispute against a start-up that helps teens get into law school, after claims that branding could damage its reputation.
The University of Law – also known as ULaw and ULAW – opposed to the use of the term “UniLaw” in logos relating to Uni Excellence Limited, a company offering advice on work experience, personal statements and the Law Admissions Test.
Uni Excellence Limited – co-founded by former University of Law student Virginia Szepietowski – applied to register UniLaw as a trademark last year.
However, when comparing two of the logos in question, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found that there is a “very low, almost non-existent degree of similarity” between them. Meanwhile, he found that there is a “low to medium degree of similarity” between “ULAW” and “UNILAW”.
“Conceptually, anyone unfamiliar with the opponent’s mark will be confused by the mark and will have no idea what the goods or services offered are. The plaintiff’s mark makes it clear that the user will help them gain entry into legal studies at a university or college,” the IPO said in its decision.
While the University of Law was partially successful under section 5(2)(b) of the Trade Marks Act 1994, its opposition under sections 5(3) and 5( 4)(a) both failed. The IPO concluded that “there is no risk that consumers will be directly or indirectly led to believe that the goods requested and supplied by the plaintiff are those of the opponent or supplied by a company related to him” .
She added that the university “has not established that it has goodwill in the ULAW trademark for any set of goods and/or services.”
The University of Law was ordered to pay £2,700 in costs to Uni Excellence Limited.
Uni Excellence Limited was represented by Audley Chaucer Solicitors and the University of Law was represented by HGF Limited.
The decision is subject to appeal.