On this Valentine’s Day, I sat down at my desk not to a bouquet of red roses but to an article about an infringement case involving the trade mark BUTLERS IN THE BUFF.
The original article in the Bristol Post says that there was an out of court settlement so the details into the background of the case are fairly scant, even after my own extensive research on the Internet, including the BUTLERS IN THE BUFF website which was, I can assure my IT department, purely for serious trade mark research purposes.
In all seriousness, the trade mark BUTLERS IN THE BUFF is registered in the UK for clothing, entertainment, waiter and butlering services. The company DJL Darwin Ltd, also own other trade marks including BUFF BUTLERS, BUTLERETTES and the two logos (on the right) for similar goods and services.
BUTLERS IN THE BUFF has become somewhat of a household name since its launch in 2001, particularly in the UK where their stereotypically muscular, handsome male waiters are popular at birthdays, hen parties, summer parties, divorce parties etc. Their waiters serve drinks, food, and get involved in all the party games… and whose uniforms consist only of a white collar, bow-tie, cuffs and black waist apron.
BUTLERS IN THE BUFF’s success in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US, has meant its concept is often copied by others trying to benefit from their success. BUTLERS IN THE BUFF found that one business operating under the name Bufflers, was using their trade mark BUTLERS IN THE BUFF, and that their customers were confused as to whether or not Bufflers is part of the original BUTLERS IN THE BUFF brand.
According to the Bristol Post, BUTLERS IN THE BUFF first wrote to Bufflers in 2017 asking them to stop using the trade mark BUTLERS IN THE BUFF because it was confusing customers and also took unfair advantage of the reputation enjoyed in the BUTLERS IN THE BUFF name. The article suggests that Bufflers called their bluff and wouldn’t change anything, so BUTLERS IN THE BUFF followed through and filed a trade mark infringement action against them. Whilst details of the out of court settlement are not shared publicly, it seems Bufflers agreed to stop using BUTLERS IN THE BUFF’s trade mark(s) on their marketing literature and website.
Brand reputation, like love, is a powerful thing and looking after it is a serious matter. Whilst sending red roses might resolve some conflicts, court issued papers tend to be a little more effective in trade mark disputes.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.