Black Cab Shape Not Distinctive Enough to be a Trade Mark

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Photo by it’s me neosiam on Pexels.com

Contributed by: Kenji Lee (Credits to Elias Arun for initial sharing)

In the UK, the London Taxi Company has been trying to prevent rival manufacturers from producing London taxis with similar shape to its classic black cab shape.

The UK Court of Appeal has, however, recently dismissed a challenge by London Taxi Company and ruled that there is to be not trademark protection for the classic design of London cabs because it is not distinctive enough to be a trademark.

In general, shape marks face multiple obstacles in trademark registrations. The first of many is the requirement of distinctiveness which requires the mark to be capable of being distinguished, be inherently distinctive, and where unable to show its inherent distinctiveness prove that it has acquired de facto distinctiveness nonetheless. This requirement is especially problematic for shapes because the shape of the product is usually dictated by its function.

For example, in the UK (and Singapore as well), Nestle has similarly lost trademark disputes over the shape of its KitKat chocolate bar.

Collectively, these show how hard it is for companies to trade mark their shapes.

Read more about the decision here: https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/01/black-cab-shape-not-distinctive-enough-to-be-trademark-say-judges

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