When your business is successful, and builds up an excellent reputation and customer goodwill, competitors may try to pass themselves off as your company in order to “steal” some of your business.
What is Passing-Off?
The most common form of passing-off is when a competitor uses a similar name to that of your business. The unscrupulous competitor could trade using a name similar to yours, perhaps with only a slight change which a customer might not notice. As a result that customer could go to this competitor in error, rather than yourself, resulting in a loss of business for you. Furthermore if your competitor is not as good, your reputation could plummet.
The actions of the competitor here do not have to be intentional, and you can go to Court to protect your business.
Other common forms of passing-off include using a similar logo to you, or advertising using similar or same slogans etc. These things can confuse customers, re-directing their business elsewhere.
What problems can Passing-Off cause?
Obviously your business may lose out on customers who have been led to believe that another business is actually you, and you might not even know about it! Not only do you lose these customers, you can also lose their repeat business. Furthermore if that competitor’s business is not as good as yours, your reputation can be damaged and adverse publicity may follow. It can be very difficult to quantify how much loss or damage a passing-off can cause.
What can you do about Passing-Off?
You might be able to get an injunction stopping your competitor from using the offending name, logo or advertisement, as well as getting compensation not only for loss of earnings but also for any gain made by the competitor from using your name etc.
If you think that someone is passing-off as your business, then you need to take action straight away. Often the offending business, when confronted, will back down and refrain from using the offending name etc. If they don’t, then you need to take the appropriate legal action to protect your business.
For advice on passing-off actions or any issue as to intellectual property please contact Daven Naghen on 01775 722261, email@example.com or at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 1DH or Gemma Mayer on 01775 722261, firstname.lastname@example.org or at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire PE11 1DH.