Starbucks and others v BSkyB – Trade mark ‘distinctiveness’ and establishing a reputation in the UK

Earlier this year, BSkyB announced its plans to launch a new internet television service, “NOW TV”. Starbucks, a broadcasting and telecommunications company (no relation to the well-known coffee company!) commenced proceedings against BSkyB, alleging trade mark infringement and passing off. Starbucks had registered a Community Trade Mark comprising the words “now” with six lines emanating from the letter “o”. The mark was used for a number of services, including its internet television service broadcast in Hong Kong.

On 2 November 2012, the High Court held that BSkyB’s use of the name “NOW TV” did not amount to trade mark infringement, nor did it amount to passing off.