A claims handling company that cold called people under the name 'Money Claiming Experts' has lost a High Court battle for infringing the “Money Saving Expert" trademark.
A judge ruled on Wednesday that claims handler Client Connection Limited (CCL) - which counts cold-calling victims of payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling as part of its business – infringed the mark by previously operating under the name Money Claiming Experts.
During telephone calls made to clients, CCL held itself out as the "Money Saving Expert" or was heard by the recipients describing itself in this way. This prompted a slew of damaging complaints to Martin and the website from people who assumed it was linked to the site or Martin Lewis.
MoneySavingExpert has consistently campaigned in favour of PPI mis-selling victims taking action to reclaim their money but has never advocated using a claims management business to do so. Borrowers who have been mis-sold PPI can use the lender's own complaints process and the Financial Ombudsman Service to win redress.
Mr Justice Norris, sitting in the Chancery Division of the High Court, said the evidence demonstrated "conclusively" that witnesses identified Martin - and no-one else - with the name "money saving expert" and that the trademark was "distinctive to the claimant".
During the hearing, the evidence made it clear that "CCL was exploiting the claimant's well-built and trusted name". The judge said that he would also have held, had the matter gone to a full trial, that CCL's use of the trading name "Money Claiming Experts", involving cold-calling customers, "would have tarnished the claimant's mark".
He added that the evidence showed that CCL "was riding on the coat tails of the claimant's registered mark and benefiting from its power of attraction, its reputation and its prestige".
Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, comments:
“Whether or not damages will be awarded has yet to be decided. If they are they will be donated in full to the Citizens Advice Bureau charity. This case wasn't brought to make money – the aim was to serve as a warning that we will not tolerate anyone trying to confuse members of the public in this way – and especially those in a financially vulnerable position."
Moneysavingexpert.com is the UK's biggest money website, with 6.2 million users opting into Martin's weekly email. In June, it had 10.4m unique users, making 18.9 million separate visits.
In May, the banks' trade body pulled out of legal action to stop the multi-billion pound payout of payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation to mis-selling victims.
It is estimated victims could be due a combined £9 billion in compensation as a result.