Who? Theo Savvides, 46, intellectual property litigation partner at London firm Bristows.
Why is he in the news? He successfully argued in the Court of Appeal that a long-running trademark infringement dispute between his client Marks & Spencer (M&S) and flower delivery company Interflora should be retried in the High Court.
The dispute arose in 2008 when Interflora sued M&S over its use of the keyword ‘Interflora’ when advertising online with Google. Following five years of legal argument, in 2013 the High Court found in favour of Interflora on the grounds that the average consumer would wrongly assume that M&S was part of its network. It further held that the onus of proving that consumers would not make this assumption lay with the advertiser, M&S, and not with the trademark owner, Interflora.
It ordered M&S to stop using Interflora’s trademark.
The CoA reversed the onus of proof, saying it lay with the trademark owner, Interflora, and not with M&S. The case has now been filed to the High Court for a retrial.
Interflora marketing director Michael Barringer told Marketing Magazine: ‘Interflora continues to believe that the evidence before the court supports a finding of infringement and we are going forward on that basis to the retrial.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘Legally and commercially, this was a very important finding. More than 50% of advertising spend is online and it is crucial that the law on digital trademark infringement is clarified.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I read biochemistry at university, but have always been interested in the law. Scientific training teaches you a logical approach, which is always useful when advising clients or advocating before a judge.’
Career high: ‘This case.’
Career low: ‘Early in my career, after a period of long hours and on the final day of a five-day trial when the other side were to present their closing [statement], I overslept by an hour and a half.’