Passing off is a common law principle that prevents an individual or company from misrepresenting their goods and / or services as being that of another individual or company. Passing off can occur in a variety of ways but typically arises when a company or individual deliberately or inadvertently takes advantage of the goodwill by way of a reputation or representation, at the point of sale, that leads consumer to believe that the origin or source of goods and services is different to the reality.
This might be done in a variety of ways, such as a similar trading name, imitation of packaging or branding as well as the registration of a similar company name. Passing off claims might, in this sense, not be brought in isolation. They may be couple with other causes of action such as trade mark infringement or a claim for unfair competition.
Crucial to any claim in passing off is the goodwill that a party has in the mark and the harm that is or may be generated as a result of such conduct (which might include the erosion of goodwill, loss of sales or reputational damage).
How can we help you?
If you believe that someone is trading under a similar mark, brand or get-up or is engaging in a course of action that takes advantage of the goodwill generated, then our expert team of lawyers are here to help. Our team has experience in providing pragmatic and commercially sensitive advice. If court proceedings prove necessary, they will help you navigate applicable law and guide you through the process. As part of any claim for passing off we have experience of advising in respect of:
- Unregistered and registered trade mark and copyright issues;
- Domain disputes;
- Objecting to a company name under the Companies Act 2006; and
- Breach of Director Duties;