Air freshener company kicks up a stink over alleged Ryanair IP infringement

An air freshener company responsible for the iconic “Little Trees” car deodoriser, has issued legal proceedings against Ryanair for alleged IP infringement.

Little Trees’ Swiss-based owner, Julius Sämann Ltd claims that the airline wrongfully used an image to promote its car rental service, which was almost identical to its own trademark.

In Commercial Court proceedings, it was revealed that the dispute centred on the distribution of a number of promotional car rental booking emails, sent by Ryanair to its customer database.

Lawyers acting for Julius Sämann Ltd are now seeking damages in relation to the alleged misuse of its trademark.

Counsel acting for the plaintiff which is now seeking a declaration that its trademark had been infringed, told the court that Ryanair’s response was “go away and stop bothering us.”

Mr Justice Robert Haughton said, “with some reluctance”, he would admit the case to the fast track commercial list. The hearing has now been adjourned to later this year.

Mark Culbert, a Director with iLaw who specialises in intellectual property matters, said: “There are various courses of action which can be pursued if you find that your mark is being infringed. Unless it is an emergency, the usual first step is to write a formal’ Letter Before Claim’ to the infringer setting out the nature of your claim and what you want from them; often giving the other party 14 or 21 days to reply.

“If matters cannot be resolved in correspondence, then it is common for the parties to either meet face to face or to engage the services of a neutral third-party mediator.

“Should that not lead to a conclusion, then there is an option to formally lodge a Court claim in either the High Court or the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court.”

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