Federation International De L’automobile v Gator Sports Ltd

16 June 2017

Jonathan Hill successfully represented the Claimant (FIA), the sporting body in charge of motor sport, in a claim in the Chancery Division for trade mark infringement and passing off in relation to articles of clothing sold by the Defendant companies after expiry of an official merchandise license relating to the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Shortly before trial liability was conceded on the part of the 1st and 2nd Defendants but the Defendants denied that the 3rd and 4th Defendants were liable and in particular that the 4th Defendant (Dubov), a director and shareholder in the other Defendants, was liable as a joint tortfeasor.

Giving judgment for the FIA, Birss J found that the court could infer that the 3rd Defendant had been selling infringing stock where it was apparent from the disclosed documents that stock had been sold but not by the 1st or 2nd Defendants. He further held that, although his offices and shareholding in the other Defendants did not raise a rebuttable presumption that Dubov was personally involved in their wrongdoing, the evidence showed that Dubov had acted as part of a common design with them and accordingly was liable as joint tortfeasor. Birss J further found that the Defendants’ conduct of the proceedings justified an award of costs on an indemnity basis.