Sir Mo Farah’s legal action against a vape company he claims used a lookalike and his first name to advertise its products has reached the High Court.
The four-time Olympic champion is suing Diamond Mist over an ad which appeared on London buses last year featuring an image of the eyes and eyebrows of a bald man with the text: “Mo’s Mad for Menthol.”
The advert for Diamond Mist’s menthol-flavoured e-liquid was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in August after members of the public complained that the man looked similar to Sir Mo.
He has since taken Diamond Mist, its director Mahrokh Amini Mandehmahalleh and a connected company, SRN Horizon, to the High Court, accusing them of “passing off” his likeness to sell its vaping liquid.
At a preliminary hearing in London on Tuesday, Judge Richard Hacon ordered a hearing to be held in December to determine whether the ad was “likely to misrepresent” to the public that Sir Mo had endorsed the product.
If the advert is found to have been misleading, there will be a further hearing to decide the extent to which Diamond Mist and Exterion Media, the company that distributed the ad campaign, are liable and any damages to which Sir Mo may be entitled.
His claim against Exterion was formally put on hold by the judge pending the December hearing.
In a statement last March, Diamond Mist defended the ad, saying it was one of five promoting different flavours which used alliteration and popular first names, such as “Claire’s Crazy for Cola”.
The company added: “At no point was there any intention to associate our menthol product with Sir Mo Farah.”
But the ASA found the advert was “likely to give consumers the misleading impression that the product had been endorsed by Sir Mo Farah”.
The advertising watchdog said the model’s bald head and eyebrow shape were reminiscent of Sir Mo’s, and that the athlete was one of the most recognisable and well-known figures in the UK to go by the name.