Bentley Motors won’t be able to use ‘Bentley’ on its UK clothing range. And it’s all because of Bentley Clothing…
More Than Just Cars
Car manufacturers have realised that they can make a pretty penny out of selling more than just motor vehicles. Luxury brands in particular have started to capitalise on their ‘premium’ character by offering a wide range of merchandise. You can get a ‘starry’ ceiling in your Rolls Royce Wraith for around £10,000. Aston Martin offers a watch that acts as a key, it fetches a price of £20,000. More accessible are Ferrari’s coloured seat belts, available from £750, but you get the picture. Bentley has been selling branded clothing for more than 30 years in the UK, but that’s about to change.
Clash Of The Bentleys
The Volkswagen Group subsidiary, based in Crewe, has lost a legal battle in the High Court against Manchester-based Bentley Clothing. As a result, it’ll only be able to use ‘Bentley’ on a limited range of caps, scarves, silk ties and jackets. Bentley Clothing, completely unrelated to the automaker, was founded in 1962 and registered ‘Bentley’ in 1982. However, Bentley Motors began producing branded clothing in 1987 in a move it’s described as ‘honest concurrent use’. However, the judge disagreed and argued that the company had made a “conscious decision” to develop the clothing range. This, he said, was a “steady encroachment on Bentley Clothing’s goodwill”.
The history of the conflict actually dates back to 1998, when Bentley Clothing approached Bentley Motors. But the High Court action wasn’t launched until 2017. As a result of the Court’s verdict, the car manufacturer may be forced to pay damages and even “hand over or destroy any items in its possession which infringe the trademark”. In a statement, Bentley Motors said it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision and that it would consider appealing. It argued, “we have been selling clothing for more than 30 years in the UK and at no point has there been any evidence of confusion with another company’s trademark”. According to reports, the luxury car manufacturer had tried to cancel Bentley Clothing’s trademark via the UK Intellectual Property Office. Something which it failed to do.
But Why All The Fuss?
The case’s outcome demonstrates that no matter how big a company is, or how strong its brand is, the law comes first. Bentley Clothing won because it secured its trademark first and, from the outside, appears to have acted in good faith. One can only imagine how protective Bentley Motors would be if a newcomer even tiptoed over what it considers to be its intellectual property! But there’s a reason Bentley Motors tried fighting so hard over this issue. Car manufacturers can’t just rely on selling cars anymore. Luxury brands are often more resilient than mass-producers, archiving more brand-loyalty and far healthier profit margins. But this is no longer always the case, as Aston Martin’s financial woes illustrate. As a result they’re looking at new revenue streams.
Automakers are investing in clothing, jewellery, toys, mobility solutions and lifestyle offerings. Not only do these things increase the brand’s visibility, they can foster loyalty and penetrate fresh markets. For Bentley Motors, then, they’ve lost a considerable source of income and to a company that (as far as they’re probably concerned) is a complete unknown that’d confuse and confound their marketing. So, if you were hoping to cruise around in your Bentley with a matching jacket and scarf, it’s really not your day.
Porsche: ‘We Can’t Just Sell Cars In Order To Survive’ – https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/porsche-we-can-t-just-sell-cars-in-order-to-survive/
Car Brand Loyalty: What’s It All About And How Does It Work? – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/car-brand-loyalty/