Judge to rule on £300,000 Tartan Army name battle

A JUDGE is to issue a verdict in the £300,000 battle at Scotland's highest court over who can use the name Tartan Army.

A judge is to rule who owns the rights to the Tartan Army name. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL
A judge is to rule who owns the rights to the Tartan Army name. Picture: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL

In October last year the owners of the famous name for the Scotland national team’s supporters took a magazine publisher to court in a bid to stop him calling his title ‘The Famous Tartan Army magazine’.

Glasgow businessman Ian Adie registered the name Tartan Army as a trademark in 1996, giving him sole rights to use the term on a wide variety of merchandise, including clothing, banners and scarves.

He sold his business, Tartan Army Limited, to former Daily Record journalist Bob Shields and his business partner Don Lawson in 2006 and they took over ownership of the trademark.

They launched a £300,000 damages claim at the Court of Session against Iain Emerson’s company Alba Football Fans Limited, which publishes The Famous Tartan Army magazine.

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Both sides have now given evidence during a four day hearing at the court and judge Lord Glennie has retired to consider his judgement in the case.

Mr Shields and Mr Lawson claimed that Mr Emerson has used the term ‘Tartan Army’ on his magazine without permission as they have the registered trademark.

As well as damages, they are seeking an interdict banning the magazine from using the name. They are also requesting an order “for destruction of all products and promotional and marketing material in the defenders’ possession using the Tartan Army mark.”

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During the hearing Mr Emerson’s lawyer Tim Young said the magazine was first published in September, 2005, and argued that pre-dated the businessmen taking ownership of the name.

He also argued they were not identical signs as ‘Famous Tartan Army Magazine’ is different from ‘Tartan Army’. He also said that no-one can have exclusive rights over the name and the trademark should be ruled invalid.

Mr Emerson, 52, a youth worker from Stirling, said: “The case was heard over four days and it is now up to Lord Glennie to make a decision.

“Both sides presented their cases and referred to previous court cases to support their position.

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“We have lodged a counter-claim challenging their use of the trademark ‘Tartan Army’. We believe it is a generic term and should only be belong to the fans.

“I am expecting a decision in the next couple of months and hopefully it goes in our favour.”

Following a preliminary hearing on the case, Lord Glennie ruled in October last year that Mr Emerson could not be sued personally, only his company.

Setting out the details of the case, he said: “The pursuer avers that the Tartan Army mark has developed and is now well established as a symbolic renowned brand associated with sporting spirit, friendly travelling support and fair play.

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“It is the owner of a number of trademarks for the Tartan Army mark which have been filed and registered in the United Kingdom and a number of other countries.

“The pursuer avers that it offers a range of high-quality goods and services to the public, including various sponsorship deals and travel promotions, through its online Tartan Army shop.

“The pursuer claims that from about 2007 or 2008 the defenders have infringed its rights in the Tartan Army trademark by publishing a magazine known as The Famous Tartan Army magazine and offering other services using the Tartan Army mark.

“It avers that the defenders’ sign highlights the words Tartan Army in a manner which is identical to the way in which those words appear when it uses them, and that the defenders offer goods, travel services and promotions identical with its own offerings.”