Trade Marks and the Territorial Limits on the High Court's Jurisdiction

UK and EU trade marks are a highly effective means of protecting your brand – but they are subject to territorial limits. The High Court made that point in ruling that it had no power to entertain infringement proceedings brought by British airline easyJet against an air carrier based in Bangladesh.

EasyJet claimed that its distinctive name and get-up, both protected by UK and EU trade marks, were being imitated by the Bangladeshi freight carrier Easy Fly Express Limited, giving rise to a clear risk of customer confusion. The former was granted permission by a judge to serve proceedings on the latter outside the jurisdiction.

In upholding Easy Fly Express Limited's appeal against that ruling, however, the Court found that its services were not targeted at either the UK or Europe. Its business was solely domestic or regional and its claim to have global reach on its website was no more than advertising puff.

The Bangladeshi carrier's stated desire to expand around the world, including Europe, was purely aspirational. EasyJet had no realistic prospect of establishing infringement either in the UK or Europe and the Court therefore lacked jurisdiction to consider its claim.