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Value Cabs and fonaCAB win joint trademark action against rival Belfast taxi company

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The two companies launched a joint action.

The two companies launched a joint action.

The two companies launched a joint action.

A businessman allegedly linked to a “shameless” attempt to extort money from two of Belfast’s biggest taxi firms must stop operating a rival service under its current branding, a High Court judge ordered today.

Value Cabs and fonaCAB secured the injunction in a joint breach of trademark action against FonaValue & 7 Seater Taxi Ltd and director Michael Hicks.

Lawyers for the two companies claim a £2.5m payment was demanded after they raised issues about the apparent merging of their names to set up the new taxi operation in Belfast.

In court today, Mr Justice McAlinden granted an order which restrains Mr Hicks’ firm from passing itself off as either Value Cabs or fonaCAB.

The prohibition covers its current name and logo, Facebook page and booking app.

Mr Hicks did not attend court for the hearing, despite steps taken to put him on notice about the proceedings.

But the judge held that the businessman was behind the establishment of FonaValue & 7 Seater Taxi Ltd in January 2020.

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Mr Justice McAlinden stated: “It is an utterly shameless and blatant attempt to extort money.

“I have no hesitation in granting the order sought.”

Value Cabs and fonaCAB both sued for trademark infringement and wrongful passing off by the rival taxi service’s misrepresentation.

Counsel for the two plaintiffs, Peter Girvan, argued that the way it was set up and operated represented an attack on their brands and goodwill.

“They are referred to as instruments of fraud, using the company name,” he submitted.

With damages to be assessed at a later stage, the judge also confirmed that heavier, indemnity legal costs will be applied in the case.

“Bearing in mind what I regard as the most reprehensible conduct of the second-named defendant (Mr Hicks), I have no hesitation in making an order in the terms sought,” the judge said.

“A clear message has to be sent out: if people try these stunts they will backfire on them badly.”

Backing the judicial assessment, Mr Girvan added: “One has to call a spade a spade sometimes.”


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