Case Note: Martinez t/a PRICK and Henry Hate Studio & Prick Tattoo Parlour London Limited v. Prick Me Baby One More Time Limited t/a PRICK and Leon [2018] EWHC 776 (IPEC)

The High Court in London recently heard a case determined a dispute over the use of the trading style ‘PRICK’.

The first Claimant is a tattoo artist.  He has traded as ‘PRICK Tattoos’ since 2001. In September 2016, he incorporated as the second Claimant. Clients of PRICK Tattoos have included the late Amy Winehouse.

The second Defendant is the sole director and shareholder of the first Defendant which has operated a cactus and succulent plant shop since July 2016 trading as ‘PRICK’.  

The Claimants took issue with the Defendant’s use of the word ‘PRICK’ arguing that it breached the common law principle that ‘a man is not to sell
his own goods under the pretence that they are the goods of another man.’

The law relating to this tort of passing off is well established. To succeed in a claim, the Claimant need to establish that:

  • Their goods or services haven have acquired goodwill in the market and are known by some distinguishing name, mark or other indication;
  • there is a misrepresentation by the Defendants, whether or not intentional, which has led, or is likely to lead, the public to believe that goods or services offered by the Defendants are goods or services of the Claimants, or connected with them; and
  • the Claimants have suffered, or are likely to suffer, damage as a result of the erroneous belief engendered by the Defendants’ misrepresentation.

Applying this criteria to the facts, it was held that the Claimants’ case must fail.

By Paul Sullivan FRSA

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