Fife garage fights off Dolce & Gabbana legal bid

Two garage owners were stunned when fashion giants Dolce & Gabbana threatened them over the use of the trademark D&G name.

Dunfermline-based garage D&G Autocare is celebrating victory over the fashion powerhouse.

A bizarre dispute centred around the use of the initials, D&G, as made famous by the internationally renowned Italian brand.

D&G Autocare, which has nine branches around Fife including Glenrothes, Perth, Stirling and Livingston, tried to have the name registered as a trademark in order to prevent rival mechanics from cashing in on its success.

The garage owners, David Hunter and George Simpson, had no reason to believe their application to the UK Intellectual Property Office would be refused.

But they were shocked to discover Dolce & Gabbana lodged a “notice of threatened opposition” to their trademark in December. The company’s trademark agents claimed that the application conflicted with their own trademark, and would lead to confusion among consumers.

In correspondence sent to the small Dunfermline business, which employs 45 workers, the agents urged the garage owners to withdraw their application.

“We had invested in our business, in our people and expanded based on a strong policy of customer care,” explained Mr Simpson, 42.

“It was a very strongly worded letter and I think it would have scared a lot of people off, But it left a very sour taste in our mouths and we decided to fight their objection.”

The garage enlisted the services of Dunfermline-based solicitor Neil Killick from Young & Partners.

Mr Killick explained: “The way trademarks work is that there are several trademark classes, which is why Polo is a registered trademark for Volkswagen in relation to the car and Nestlé in relation to the mint.

“Dolce & Gabbana had registered the D&G name across all the different trademark classes, including class 12 which covers vehicles and vehicle parts. We asked for proof of the use of their trademark in this class, which we knew would be impossible for them to do.”

The Italian firm came back with a deal, stating that it would not formally oppose the trademark application so long as the Fife company always used the word Autocare with its D&G logo, and did not try to register the firm outside Britain.

Now, D&G Autocare has been officially granted its trademark, and Mr Simpson praised the way Mr Killick fought their corner.