Trade mark decision

BL Number
Decision date
25 March 2004
Hearing Officer
Mr G Salthouse
35, 38, 42
Etribes Limited
Helen Wilkinson
Sections 3(6), 5(4)(a) & 5(4)(b)


Section 3(6) - Opposition failed.

Section 5(4)(a) - Opposition failed.

Section 5(4)(b) - Opposition failed.

Points Of Interest

  • 1. None


In 1999 the mark "etribes" was generated for a business plan prepared by the opponent and Mr Simon Grice (Applicant of the Director) as director of a company called eTtribe Limited. Early in 2000 the name of the company was changed to Limited and in August 2000 to EATA Limited. Subsequently Mr Grice formed the applicant company eTribes Limited and applied to register the mark in suit in November 2000.

Mr Grice claims to have first seen the name "eTribes" in the European Journal of Management dated June 1999. The opponent disputes this, saying that the mark was jointly coined and was to be used by their company eTribes Limited. The opponent admits that Mr Grice purchased the internet name with his own money, hence the first change of name to Limited. The opponent claims she was not informed of the later change of name to EATA Limited. In her evidence the opponent admitted that while a business plan had been prepared for EATA Limited (under its previous name) that company had never traded due to a lack of funding. As the opponent had no reputation and goodwill in the mark at issue the opposition under Section 5(4)(a) failed.

The opponent also claimed to have a non-disclosure agreement with Mr Grice/the applicant to protect each other from exploiting joint ideas without permission of both parties. A copy of this agreement between the opponent and a company called "bucketandspade Limited" and signed by its secretary Mr Simon Grice was filed in evidence.

Under Section 5(4)(b) the Hearing Officer considered the affect of the non-disclosure agreement. He noted that this agreement was with a different legal entity as compared to the applicant and in any event was some time after the word eTribes entered the public domain. Opposition thus failed on this ground.

Under Section 3(6) the Hearing Officer accepted that both parties had different views on the background to the dispute and noted that the evidence contained in the documentation was not always precise. However, he noted that Mr Grice owned the domain name and that he claimed to have been the originator of the term "eTribe". Also the original company had never traded and the new company appeared to be aiming at a somewhat different market. Overall the Hearing Officer concluded that the applicant had not acted in bad faith in applying for the mark in suit. Opposition thus failed on this ground.

Full decision O/082/04 PDF document41Kb