Trade mark decision

BL Number
Decision date
1 December 1999
Hearing Officer
Mr A James
Alliance of Independent Retailers Ltd
Reed Business Publishing Ltd
Sections 3(1) and 3(1)(b) - (d), Section 3(3)(b) Section 5(2)(b)


Section 3(1) - Opposition failed

Section 3(1)(b) and (c) - Opposition succeeded

Section 5(2)(b) - Opposition failed

Points Of Interest

  • 1. Section 7 (Honest Concurrent Use). If the Registrar uses the provisions of Section 7 to allow an application to proceed to advertisement it is not open to a third party opponent to use marks not in their ownership to launch opposition.


Independent Retailer accepted as a generic description of retail businesses which are not part of large chains.

Applicants claimed use from 1984 and turnover figures given as £181K in 1990 increasing to £248K in 1994.

Hearing Officer found that the applicants evidence was not precise, that promotional activity was low and that the principal readership of the magazine was the applicants own members. Thus the name of the magazine will not have been relied upon to the usual extent to distinguish the applicants publication from those of others. Onus on applicant to show that mark is distinctive not discharged. Mark not acceptable under 3(1)(b) and (c).

Opposition under 5(2)(b) based on ownership of the registered mark INDEPENDENT GROCER. However, respective marks both descriptive and small differences sufficient to distinguish them. Two other marks relied upon by the opponent were not owned by him. As the applicant had proceeded to advertisement under the provisions of Section 7 Opposition could only be relevant if launched by the proprietors of those marks. Opposition therefore failed under Section 5(2)(b).

Full decision O/422/99 PDF document28Kb