Tim Garbutt’s ethical “Integrity Agency” did not go down well with Integrity Design Management, who had registered “Integrity” as a trade mark in respect of brand management services. Chancery held Mr Garbutt to be infringing this registration, but he didn’t appear to get the message and wound up in prison. Draconian? Richard Menzies goes behind bars for a closer look.
Who: Integrity Design Management Ltd. v Tim Garbutt (t/a as Integrity and/or Integrity Agency), Integrity Agency Ltd
When: July 2008
Where: High Court of Justice, Chancery Division
Mr Tim Garbutt ran an "ethical" ad agency called Integrity Agency. It advertised its business by reference to the names "Integrity" and "Integrity Agency".
Integrity Design Management Ltd ("Integrity") is the registered proprietor of UK trade mark no. 2405332 for the word mark INTEGRITY in classes 35 and 42 (covering brand management services and design management services).
Integrity brought proceedings against Mr Garbutt for trade mark infringement and passing off during autumn 2007. Perhaps not surprisingly these proceedings were successful and as a result Mr Garbutt was the subject of two orders made to restrain infringement of trade mark and to restrain passing off. Briefly, the orders provided that Mr Garbutt would not use the word "Integrity" in the context of his marketing agency business, and particularly not in descriptive terms.
Ethical agency in contempt
Subsequently, Mr Garbutt breached the two orders and Integrity brought an application to have Mr Garbutt committed (to prison) for contempt of court.
On the basis of Mr Garbutt's flagrant and deliberate breaches of the orders, the judge agreed that Mr Garbutt was in contempt of court and made judgment, indicating that Mr Garbutt would be sentenced to six months in prison. At the eleventh hour the committal order was suspended when Mr Garbutt agreed to sign various undertakings stating that he would cease all use of the proscribed word.
Undeterred, Mr Garbutt promptly flaunted the terms of the undertakings and Integrity applied to remove the suspension of the committal order. The application was successful and Mr Garbutt was committed to Brixton Prison. In granting the committal order, the court stated that Mr Garbutt had left it with no option but to grant the order since it was clear that he would not otherwise comply with the orders and undertakings.
Why this matters:
Orders for committal are a draconian remedy. Normally where dealing with legitimate businesses compliance with court orders is rarely an issue. Yet you will occasionally encounter individuals who simply refuse to comply with court orders. In such circumstances, proceedings may be brought to have the individual committed. The prospect of being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure for six months can have a useful deterrent effect, although in this case it does not seem to have worked.