Bentley Motors Limited, the high profile luxury car company, applied to revoke the trademark "BENTLEY" word mark belonging to Aucera S.A. on the ground that it had not been used in Singapore for a continuous period of 5 years. The trade mark was registered in 1996 for eyewear-related goods in Class 09.
The case centered on whether the evidence of use adduced by Aucera S.A. constituted genuine use of the trade mark and not merely for the purpose of trade mark protection.
In assessing whether there had been genuine use of the trade mark, the Hearing Officer paid particular attention to:
(1) what the evidence revealed about the nature of the 'use';
(2) the intention behind the 'use'; and
(3) whether it showed 'use' aimed at creating an outlet for the Goods in Singapore.
She also stressed in her decision that when assessing the genuineness of 'use', "regard must be had to all the facts and circumstances relevant to establishing whether the commercial exploitation of the mark was real, in particular whether such use was viewed as warranted in the economic sector concerned to maintain or create a share in the market for the goods or services protected by the mark. Consideration was also given to the nature of the goods at issue, the characteristics of the market concerned and the scale and frequency of use of the mark.
In the present case, the ‘use’ adduced by Aucera S.A. showed that the mark had only been used in Singapore for a mere 15 days (as evidenced at best) within the relevant 5-year period. Moreover, the Proprietor had failed to address the issue of how its minimal use demonstrates an intention to establish a market for the goods in Singapore.
The Hearing Officer therefore concluded that the evidence did not show real commercial exploitation of the registered mark BENTLEY in Singapore. Thus, in the absence of any proof of genuine use of the registered mark within the relevant 5 year period for any of the Goods for which the mark is registered, the Hearing Officer granted the application for revocation.
Another interesting and noteworthy observation can be found at  of the decision where the Hearing Officer mentioned:
"...The absence of sufficiently detailed evidence is one of the reasons why I find that the Proprietor’s case falls on the wrong side of the line. Given the Proprietor’s size, the scale of their activities, that it is a long established company, deals in various types of goods and with a presence in numerous countries, the evidence could have been better prepared. "
These comments are an important reminder that the relevance, weight and proper presentation of the evidence plays a huge role in determining which “side of the line” one’s case falls.
To view the Grounds of Decision, click here.
This article is an extract from Spruson & Ferguson’s Asia-Pacific Regional Trade Mark Update. You can view the entire summary here.