Who? Liz Ward, principal at Virtuoso Legal, Leeds and London.
Why is she in the news? Successfully represented US software company Argos Systems in a trademark infringement case brought by UK retailer Argos. The case centred on the ‘ARGOS’ trademark – belonging to the retailer.
The retailer raised the complaint after potential customers accidentally went to the domain www.argos.com, which was first registered by Argos Systems in 1992. Since Google’s algorithms monitor the browsing history of users, including those who shop at Argos online, browsers who came to the website were likely to see adverts for Argos UK on there.
Argos UK claimed Argos Systems should be liable for trademark infringement but High Court deputy judge Richard Spearman QC found that it was not liable for infringement or passing off.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This is a landmark decision about the alleged infringement of the ARGOS trademark online by the owners of the www.argos.com domain name.
‘Online trademark infringement cases are still in their infancy but this case will give guidance to the profession for years to come. While I can totally understand Argos making a stand about the adverts which appeared on the argos.com domain, it would have been wholly wrong to have found against Argos Systems.’
Dealing with the media: ‘When the court handed down its decision the telephone rang off the hook. Most of the press were helpful and wanted to get to the facts of the case.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘My first degree was in genetics and cell biology and I worked for 10 years in the pharma industry before becoming a lawyer. I wanted to use my scientific and analytical skills in the law. I studied the law part-time and worked.’
Career low: ‘Accidently sending an original High Court writ to the courts in Madrid, Spain, when I should have sent them a copy for translation and service. I did get it back after some quick footwork.’