London club in trademark dispute with Quality Meat Scotland

The Beatles were regulars at the Scotch of St James
The Beatles were regulars at the Scotch of St James
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A CELEBRITY London nightclub which played host to The Beatles, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix has found itself at the centre of a bizarre legal row with the Scottish government’s red meat promotion body.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) became involved in a naming row with nightspot The Scotch of St James after trying to register their brand ‘The Scotch Kitchen’.

The nightclub is a famous celebrity hangout which opened at the height of the Swinging Sixties and regular patrons included The Fab Four, The Rolling Stones, Clapton, The Who and Rod Stewart.

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix played his first UK gig at the club in September, 1966, and he met his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham there.

QMS angered the club’s current owner, Tim Lalic, by applying to trademark the name ‘Scotch Kitchen’ for a range of goods and services including the ‘provision of food and drink in restaurants’.

He said the name was too similar to that of the club’s trademark ‘The Scotch’ and could damage his business if it was set up as a restaurant. Mr Lalic, 32, a Croatian-born businessman, instructed trademark attorneys to fight the QMS bid.

The UK Intellectual Property Office, who rule over trademark disputes, has now ruled in his favour and ordered QMS to pay him £600 in costs although they could still appeal the decision.

In a written ruling, trademark hearing officer Mark King said: “Conceptually ‘The Scotch’ mark will be remembered as a reference to Scottish

people, whisky or something else Scottish related.

“With regard to the application, this would be recalled as being a kitchen that either serves Scottish food or possibly as an establishment owned by people of Scottish descent.

“Regardless of the specific feature or characteristic the overall impression of the respective marks and what would be remembered by the consumers would be “scotch”. They are similar to a medium degree.

“The opponent has not claimed to have an enhanced distinctive character by virtue of the use made of the mark. It has outlined the history and famous attendees of its bar, but has not provided turnover, marketing or any further evidence to support enhanced distinctive character. Therefore, I must only consider the inherent distinctive character of the mark.

“I do acknowledge that the earlier mark is at the lower end of the distinctiveness spectrum. However, overall the marks are similar to at least a medium degree.

“Further, any lesser degree of similarity between the marks would be offset by the services being identical. In view of this, I consider that there is a likelihood of direct confusion. The opposition succeeds.”

QMS currently uses the name ‘The Scotch Kitchen’ on a consumer website which offers recipes for red meat dishes.

The body is responsible for helping the Scottish red meat sector improve its efficiency and profitability, and markets Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb brands in the UK and abroad.

The Scotch of St James, in London’s Westminster, closed down in the mid-1980s but it was restored and reopened in January, 2012.

Since then it has attracted a string of big names including supermodel Kate Moss, pop stars Rihanna and Harry Styles and actress Scarlett Johansson.

Suzie Carlaw, Marketing Controller at Quality Meat Scotland, said: “The decision by the UK Intellectual Property Office on the Scotch Kitchen trademark does not impact on any of Quality Meat Scotland’s activities, namely the Scotch Kitchen website and social platforms which are the go-to resources for Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI information and recipes.”

Mr Lalic was unavailable for comment.