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Its EasyJet verses Netflix in trade mark dispute

Written by Mark Reed on 01 October 2018

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EasyJet naturally has their mark protected and it is the European registration that was at the forefront of legal action against Netflix. The reason for this filing is the ‘Netflix original’ comedy series entitled ‘Easy’ which is pinned as being a “eclectic, star-studded anthology [which] follows diverse Chicagoans fumbling through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and culture” by its creator Joe Swanberg.

This dispute is in a line of claims by billionaire Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou who is the founder of EasyJet. Haji-Ioannou is attempting to clampdown on people looking to ‘piggyback’ off his marks, and has called these people ‘brand thieves’ because it is argued that they are using his good name to better themselves. This has caused him to now target the billion-pound streaming company by a high court injunction to stop them using the name in Europe. One question is that the Netflix show is not new, in fact it will be going in to its third series in 2019 and has stars such as Emily Ratajkowski and Orlando Bloom on the bill, so it is a surprise that a claim has not been made before now.

A spokesperson for EasyJet has released a report that “EasyGroup has a strict policy of taking legal action to protect its licensees, including easyJet, the low-cost airline, and which use its striking orange branding. EasyJet will start legal proceedings at the beginning of the week. EasyGroup now owns more than 1,000 registered trademarks within the easy family of brands all over the world and takes its protection from unauthorised use very seriously.” In a response to this claim, Netflix bit back with a witty remark by saying “viewers can tell the difference between a show they watch and a plane they fly in.”

The founder of EasyJet himself Haji-Ioannou has come forward himself and in a statement has said “This is a case of typically arrogant behaviour by a very large American tech company who never bothered to check what legal rights other companies have outside the US. When Joe Swanberg came up with the name ‘easy’ for his new TV series a couple of years ago they should have checked with their European lawyers before using it. We own the European trademark in the word easy and another thousand trademarks with easy as a prefix and we can’t allow people to use it now as a brand name, especially when they are doing it mostly with our colours and font. At least I am pleased that Netflix have said that they will stop at series three anyway. However, we have to stop them from promoting the older series in Europe for online streaming.”

The issue they may come up against when taking action against Netflix is showing that there is a likelihood of confusion between the two marks and also show that they are in a similar classification of goods and services or has a similar term. An example of this would be someone selling computer software goods within class 09, and someone else selling services for designing and computer software within class 42. These may be deemed to be similar classes for the purposes of an action.
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