Willoughby’s future is bright with Orange

IP boutique Willoughby & Partners last week found itself at the centre of the Orange-EasyGroup spat over the use of the colour orange in EasyMobile’s trademark.

Willoughby partner Shireen Peermohamed advised Orange when it wrote to EasyGroup stating that it held the trademark for the colour orange relating to mobile phones. Willoughby alumni Sulina Connal and Della Burnside hold the key IP roles at Orange and EasyGroup respectively.

Denied the opportunity to work with her former firm, Burnside turned to John Hull, partner at Denton Wilde Sapte, which has advised EasyGroup on similar disputes.

EasyGroup figurehead Stelios Haji-Ioannou claimed he would enforce his right to the colour, but backed down the day before the case was due in court.

The companies released a statement: “We both agree that it is in neither party’s interest to cause confusion in the marketplace. Therefore we will work together to find an amicable solution.”

IP specialists were unsurprised by Stelios’s u-turn. Orange has registered the colour as a trademark, specifically in relation to telecoms.

“It is difficult to argue that people weren’t going to be confused,” said trademark specialist Morag MacDonald at Bird & Bird.