Meet and greet
EasyGroup objected to the use of the Easyway brand in the UK. The Easyway website offers ‘meet and greet’ services for visitors to the island of St Barts in the Caribbean. You can also book flights and rent cars.
During the lawsuit, EasyGroup based its claim on four trademark registrations: EasyJet, EasyCar, EasyBus and EasyHotel.
Familie of brands
The English court started by establishing that the (English) EasyWay website is aimed at the English public. He then noted that the EasyJet and EasyCar brands are well known. According to the English court, the four EasyGroup trademarks should be seen as a ‘family of marks’, all of which use the ‘easy’ element and are travel-related.
Since EasyWay also focuses on transport and travel and the trademark also uses the same construction as the Easy family (Easy followed by a descriptive word), there is a risk of confusion for the consumer. According to the court, this carries more weight than the descriptive character (and difficult protection) of the word Easy.
It’s a remarkable victory for the EasyGroup; here are a few conclusions:
1) if you manage to market a family of trademarks, you can even get protection for a very descriptive element. It’s reminiscent of the Dutch cheese manufacturer Westland’s successful claim on the series of ‘Lander’ brands: Maaslander, Amstellander etc. And McDonald’s, of course, does the same with its ‘Mc’ element. But building a trademark family takes a lot of time and money and requires close cooperation between the legal affairs and marketing departments within your company.
2) don’t worry about EasyGroup now having exclusive rights to the word Easy. They only won this case because the other party is also active in the travel world, and the Easyway trademark also has the same structure as the EasyGroup series of easy brands. So in principle, ‘easy’ remains available in other sectors.