Hansel Henson is a leading London Intellectual Property and Media law firm.

Within the area of Intellectual Property we have particular expertise in dealing with branding, copyright, trade mark and domain name disputes. Our clients are varied, ranging from major global brands to fast growing start-up businesses.

We have considerable experience in dealing with cases involving easyGroup IP Licensing Limited and other companies founded by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

No easy monopoly!

Following the very great success of easyJet, Sir Stelios has sought to extend his easy brand to other businesses. Those businesses have had mixed fortunes, and several no longer trade. But nobody has - nor ever can - have a monopoly in the plain word “easy” in relation to all types of goods and services.

Ten years ago our senior partner David Hansel, a recognised trade mark law expert, acted for Easyart in its successful defence of High Court proceedings brought by easyGroup. More recently he helped EasyPizza defend itself when sued by easyGroup. That is just a small selection - David has been instructed by a great number of other "easy" companies over the last 10 years - see for instance, story here.

Thinking of using the word easy?

If you are thinking of using the word “easy” in relation to a business then you should take care. Firstly, easyGroup may well write to you threatening trade mark infringement! Secondly, easyJet is well known and distinctive, and no business should seek to mimic its distinctive get-up of orange and White, lower case ‘e’ and capitalised ‘J’ and Cooper Black font. Thirdly, because the name is so descriptive and very commonly used, you may find it will take a long time for it to become distinctive - consider going for something less commonplace and descriptive.

Trade mark law is complicated and we are not going to explain it all here. However, the Government’s UK Intellectual Property Office has some good resources on its website. As with any branding advice, you are best advised to see a good solicitor or trade mark attorney.

Received a letter?

You may be one of the hundreds of businesses who have received a letter alleging trade mark infringement and passing off from one of the firms of solicitors representing easyGroup and/ or easyJet. EasyGroup has used a large number of firms over the years although the current firms appear to be Clarke Willmott, Stephenson Harwood and Addleshaw Goddard.

If you receive such a letter then do not panic!

We may be able to advise you, although we will need to run a conflicts check and to charge you for our advice. We also accept instructions from other law firms who wish to maintain the relationship with their client but wish to have expert advice.

Whilst nobody can have a monopoly on the word easy, EasyJet and easyGroup do have rights that they are entitled to defend. There are circumstances where they are entitled to stop those who misappropriate their valuable goodwill and confuse the public. If you are looking to rip off easyJet or easyGroup branding then please do not contact us. Instead read the easyRealestate case and think again!

If you have any queries then please contact Justine Flockhart To go to our website see www.hanselhenson.com