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Newsquest fights off trademark lawsuit over farming title

Local newspaper publisher Newsquest has successfully fought off a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement over the launch of a new farming-focused edition.

Evegate Publishing Ltd claimed that The Southern Farmer, which launched in 2011, was trying to create confusion among readers and advertisers who had previously been involved with its own farming-oriented publication, South East Farmer, which was launched in the mid-80s.

However, Mrs Justice Asplin, sitting at the High Court, ruled there was no evidence to show that there had been any confusion at all, with most readers and advertisers displaying an awareness that the two titles were different.

She found that the masthead of The Southern Farmer had not been designed to look similar to that of the South East Farmer, as it was modelled on other Newsquest titles across the country which had been in circulation for many years, including the Scottish Farmer and the South West Farmer.

In her judgement, she said: “There is no real evidence of detriment caused to the reputation [of the South East Farmer.]

“The Southern Farmer is in the Scottish Farmer mould and…that has a high reputation.

“Nor, is there any evidence of unfair advantage being taken of the South East Farmer’s repute or of anyone changing their opinion of it as a result of Southern Farmer.”

However, she rejected counterclaims by Newsquest asking for Evegate’s trademark to be declared invalid and revoked.

The two mastheads - Evegate Publishing Ltd own the South East Farmer (above) and took Newsquest to court claiming trademark infringement over its title The Southern Farmer (bottom)