3i uses Lovells to sue internet company over ‘copycat’ name

Lovells is advising venture capital group 3i on its action against Interactive Investor International, claiming that the online financial adviser’s use of the acronym “iii” is creating confusion among potential clients.

Stephenson Harwood is representing iii in the case, which goes back to February when 3i was allocated the ticker symbol III on the London Stock Exchange, with the ticker for iii being IIN. A submission to the High Court from 3i claims that its trademark has been infringed.

Mike Davies, corporate affairs manager at 3i, refused to comment, speaking only to confirm that negotiations are taking place and that Lovells, which does not appear on 3i’s panel, is acting on their behalf. iii denies all the allegations.

Anil Raval, head of legal and compliance for iii, says: “[3i] claim there is confusion in the marketplace. We have assembled a legal team and will be vigorously contesting the allegations. We see no merit in 3i’s claims.”

Raval believes that, because the two companies operate in different sectors, there can be very little chance of confusion.

He says: “We are very clear about the way we present ourselves in public. We are not in the venture capital business.”

3i, which holds a major stake in iii’s rival, TheStreet .co.uk, is demanding to see the client list of the online finance company.

3i’s past clients have included Lastminute .com, for which iii completed the first totally online initial public offering.