Online fashion and beauty retailer Asos has agreed to pay over £20 million to upmarket cycle wear manufacturer Assos of Switzerland and German menswear retailer, Anson's Herrenhaus, to settle ongoing worldwide trade mark disputes between the companies.
According to reports in the news, the settlement is in regard to the worldwide trademark dispute which have been ongoing for a number of years, and is full and final. The Guardian reports that the deal will allow Asos to start selling athletic leisurewear. However, Asos will be restricted from selling cyclewear and opening shops in Germany.
Asos had successfully defended its case in the UK up until the Supreme Court. However, there are outstanding cases in the US, France and Germany. Asos won the UK action on the basis of the own name defence, which provides that an EU trade mark owner cannot prevent a third party from using its own name or address in the course of trade, provided that he uses them "in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters". However, recent changes in European trade mark law mean companies can no longer benefit from the own name defence — this would leave Asos vulnerable to attacks from the cycle wear firm.
The settlement shows how certainty for a company can be worthwhile, even at considerable expense, to prevent the uncertainty of disputes ongoing in multiple jurisdictions which might have varying outcomes.