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A Spicy Tale!!

Schofield Sweeney’s litigation team acts for a West Yorkshire based food business which produces a mixed spice product which incorporates the word “Bassar” in its name.  It has received a letter of claim from solicitors acting for a large food manufacturer which has trademarked the word “Bassar”, which applies to its own spice product.  The letter alleged trademark infringement and required Schofield Sweeney’s client to stop using the word “Bassar”; to give undertakings and pay damages.  A response has been made disputing the claim of trademark infringement and in particular relying on s.11(2)(b) Trademark Act 1994.  That provides that a registered trademark is not infringed by the use of indications concerning the kind, quality, geographical origin or other characteristics of goods or services provided the use is in accordance with honest business practice in industrial and commercial matters.

The work “Bassar” is not a word made up by the claimant but is a description of a type of mixed spice powder (the word is generic and, for instance, akin to the words “chutney” or “ketchup”) widely used in Northern Pakistan and Kashmir where mixed spice powder is known by that name.  It is also widely used in the Asian community in the UK itself. 

The claimant’s product incorporates the words “Pakistani Bassar” in its name whilst the Schofield Sweeney client refers to a part of Kashmir in its product’s name by the use of the description “Mirpuri Bassar”.

The claimant has responded and whilst acknowledging the use of the word “Bassar” in Pakistan and Kashmir, says they are a different jurisdiction, culture and language.  However, the market into which the products are sold in UK is largely based in that culture and uses that language.  That is demonstrated by the use of the word “Bassar” by several other producers of mixed spice products in the UK market. 

This spicy correspondence is continuing.

If you are faced with issues of trademark or other intellectual property infringement, please make contact with Schofield Sweeney’s litigation team or call 01274 306000.


About the Author

James Staton


James is a Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution team and primarily handles commercial…

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