Irish souvenir company goes to court over cartoon sheep

A legal row over colourful cartoon sheep has come before the Commercial Court, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

Irish firm The Shamrock Gift Company has gone to court claiming a British company has allegedly infringed trademarks in relation to its "Wacky Woolies" range which has colourful cartoon sheep on souvenirs and gifts.

The Shamrock Gift Company [Trading House], with registered offices at Fonthill Industrial Park, Dublin, has sued British company Elgate Products Ltd, with registered offices at Delandale House, Old Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent, on grounds including alleged infringement of the Irish registered trademarks and alleged passing off.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern today admitted the case to the fast track Commercial Court.

The Shamrock Gift Company, which has been in business since 1998, is seeking an order restraining Elgate Products from infringing the Irish registered trademarks which comprise images of cartoon sheep.

It also seeks an injunction restraining Elgate from allegedly passing off goods as or for the goods of The Shamrock Gift Company by means of packaging or marketing materials bearing images of cartoon sheep and a get up similar to that of Shamrocks's Wacky Woolies range of products.

The Shamrock Gift Company is also looking for an order directing delivery to it of all goods, packaging, products, materials or articles which allegedly infringe Shamrock's intellectual property rights and which are in the possession of Elgate.

Counsel for Elgate Jonathan Newman SC told the court Elgate is counterclaiming the trademark registrations at issue are invalid. In its action, The Shamrock Gift Company says it has been in business since 1998 and markets a vast array of merchandise, including souvenirs, gift and novelty items.

Since 2007 it said it has promoted, marketed and sold in Ireland a wide variety of such products under the name and trademark Wacky Woolies which have images of cartoon sheep which Shamrock says are eye-catching, amusing and endearing from the perspective of prospective purchasers.

Shamrock says it commenced the proceedings as a result of Elgate advertising, offering, putting on the market and stocking products which are branded with images of cartoon sheep and which Shamrock claims are confusingly similar to those in the Wacky Woolies range.

The offending products it says are soft toys, purses, bottle openers, puzzle cubes, stationery sets, bags, magnets, mugs, playing cards as well as canvas bags, pens, tea towels and oven mitts.

The case will come back before the court in July.

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