Public Authorities and Trading

January 17th, 2019

In Apt Training and Consultancy Limited v Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust (2019) EWHC 19 (IPEC) the Judge found that the NHS Trust’s use of the Claimant’s sign in relation to educational and training services and related material was use for the purposes of trade mark infringement, and that such use was use “in the course of trade”.

The NHS Trust denied infringement on the basis that it had not used the sign “in the course of trade”, because it was a non-profit making entity, whose primary function was the provision of services to the NHS, rather than commercial activities with a view to economic advantage. This defence failed. The Judge held that, in assessing whether a sign was used “in the course of trade”, the fact that goods or services were offered on a non-profit making basis was not decisive. A non-profit making body could make external, commercial use of a sign in various ways.

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