TAKEN FOR A RIDE
necessarily make it inherently distinctive, he said.
To prove that a trademark had become distinctive through use, the judge said, it was necessary to show that at the relevant date a significant proportion of the market perceived that the goods or services originated from a particular company because of the trademark in question (in this case, the shape of the black cab), as opposed to any other trademark.
This was not the case here. According to the judge, there was no proof that the relevant market (which in this case was taxi drivers rather than taxi users) perceived the shape as a sign that the taxis originated from the London Taxi Corporation. The judge seemed to find it relevant that the London Taxi Corporation had never promoted the shape of the cab, and the mere fact that it had been described as “iconic” in the press did not mean that it indicated ownership in the London Taxi Corporation.
On top of this, the judge found that the registrations breached the provision in EU and UK trademark law that says that a shape cannot be registered if it is one that gives substantial value to the goods. The judge said the