IP triumph for Ashursts team

Ashurst Morris Crisp has won a major intellectual property battle on behalf of Neutrogena Corporation against L'Oreal (UK) over the brand name Neutralia.

The case, thought to be worth millions of pounds to the litigants, led to L'Oreal (UK) being injuncted and having to junk large amounts of product.

For Ashursts, it is the biggest IP case since its programme of departmental expansion started with the arrival of Ian Starr from Clifford Chance several years ago. Starr left as Clifford Chance's number two to head the Ashursts team, now doubled to 10 lawyers.

Starr said: “It has shown that Ashursts is now a serious player in IP and can compete will all the other IP firms on an equal footing.”

In the Neutralia case, proceedings for assessing damages will start soon.

The action was over L'Oreal's use of the brand name Neutralia for a range of personal care products. Mr Justice Jacob last year found the company had infringed registered trademarks, amounting to passing off.

The Court of Appeal dismissed L'Oreal's expedited appeal before Christmas.

A final injunction prohibits the defendants from the manufacture and sale of Neutralia products in the UK. L'Oreal also undertook to request all customers to return stock.

“This was a big case by anyone's standards and involved quite a lot of innovation in getting evidence,” said Starr.