The University of Law has lost major elements of a trade mark dispute against a start-up that helps teenagers get into law school, after claiming the branding could damage its reputation.

The University of Law – also known as ULaw and ULAW – opposed the use of the term ‘UniLaw’ in logos relating to Uni Excellence Limited, a business offering advice on work experience, personal statements and the law admissions test.

Uni Excellence Limited – co-founded by a former University of Law student, Virginia Szepietowski – applied to register UniLaw as a trade mark last year.

However, comparing two of the logos in question, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found there is an ‘very low almost non-existent degree of similarity’ between them. Meanwhile, it found there is a ‘low to medium degree of similarity’ between ‘ULAW’ and ‘UNILAW’.

‘Conceptually, anyone unfamiliar with the opponent’s mark will be bemused by the mark and have no clue what the goods or services offered are all about. The applicant’s mark clearly indicates that the user will assist one to get into studying law at a university or college,’ the IPO said in its decision.

While the University of Law partly succeeded under section 5(2)(b) of the Trade Marks Act 1994, its opposition under sections 5(3) and 5(4)(a) both failed. The IPO concluded ‘there is no likelihood of consumers being directly or indirectly confused into believing that the goods applied for and provided by the applicant are those of the opponent or provided by an undertaking linked to it’.

It added that the university ‘has not established that it has a reputation in the trade mark ULAW for a set of goods and/or services’.

The University of Law was ordered to pay Uni Excellence Limited £2700 in costs.

Uni Excellence Limited was represented by Audley Chaucer Solicitors and the University of Law was represented by HGF Limited.

The decision is open to appeal.

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