Lewis Silkin fights Hutchison’s corner in O2 bubble ad dispute

Lewis Silkin fights Hutchison’s corner in O2 bubble ad dispute” />Lewis Silkin has won Hutchison 3G as a new client with an instruction for the litigation team on the high profile ‘bubbles’ dispute, referred by Hutchison 3G’s advertising agency.

Telecoms company mmO2 sued Hutchison 3G for trademark infringement after Hutchison used bubble imagery in a series of advertisements.

O2 has trademarked its now-famous oxygen bubbles, and claims that Hutchison’s use of bubble pictures and sounds breaches fair use of the motif.

Lewis Silkin media and entertainment partner Giles Crown is leading for Hutchison following a recommendation from Havas subsidiary WCRS, Hutchison’s advertising agency. Lewis Silkin has advised Havas for some time. mmO2 is using Bristows.

The bubbles appeared in advertisements run by Hutchison comparing its products and prices with other mobile telephone companies, including O2. These comparative advertisements have already been the subject of an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigation.

Reporting on 13 October, the ASA upheld the majority of the complaints brought by O2, T-Mobile and a member of the public regarding the validity of the claims made by Hutchison.

The case moved to the Chancery Division of the High Court before Mr Justice Pumfrey on 5 November, when O2 sought an interim injunction against Hutchison to prevent further use of the bubbles.

The interim hearing was scheduled for just one day, but it ran over. At the time of writing, the judgment had yet to be handed down.

At the end of October, O2’s advertisements won the Grand Prix Award for Effectiveness from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, showing the effectiveness of the brand.
Crown instructed Mark Platts-Mills QC of 8 New Square for Hutchison. Meanwhile Paul Walsh, head of Bristows’ trademarks prosecution and brands practice, is acting for mmO2, instructing Hogarth Chambers’ Alastair Wilson QC.