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With the future of 'grid girls' being debated in Formula One, the Tour de Yorkshire has reiterated how proud it is to be leading the way with regards to responsible podium protocol.

Upon its launch in 2015, the Tour de Yorkshire broke from tradition by employing successful Yorkshire-based businesswomen in place of traditional podium girls. Caroline Harrison, Chief Executive of Aspire-igen, and freelance communications and marketing consultant Philippa Campbell were employed to distribute prizes after each day's action and both have been a constant fixture ever since.

The Santos Tour Down Under – who have a knowledge sharing partnership with the Tour de Yorkshire – were inspired to make a similar move in 2017 by replacing podium girls with junior cyclists.

The debate regarding the future of 'grid' or 'podium' girls has come back into focus following BBC Radio 5 Live's special production entitled Grid Girls which aired on Thursday night. The show revealed that Formula One's new owners Liberty Media are looking into whether the sport should continue to use 'grid girls' to conduct certain promotional tasks.

As well as deploying successful businesswomen to manage post-stage podium protocol, the Tour de Yorkshire also broke the mould in 2016 when it made the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women's Race the most lucrative event in female cycling with a prize pot of £50,000 – which was significantly larger than its equivalent men's race.

Such was the success of the first two editions that the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women's Race will double in size from one to two days in 2018 and once again attract the biggest names in the sport.

Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity insists the Tour de Yorkshire will continue to lead the way when it comes to equality and is proud that the race is challenging long-held traditions.

He said: "When we launched the Tour de Yorkshire we felt it vital that our race highlighted equality and we remain passionate about growing women's sport.

"I wholeheartedly welcome Formula One's decision to review its use of grid girls and will be following developments closely."

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In a previous article, we looked at the case of Specsavers –v- Asda which concerned a marketing campaign by Asda to promote its in-store optician services. Asda used various marketing materials in their stores and on their website which included the taglines “Be a real spec saver at Asda” and “Spec saving at Asda”. Asda had also used a logo mark of two non-intersecting ovals similar to the overlapping ellipses used by Specsavers (“the wordless mark”).

Specsavers issued proceedings in the High Court for trade mark infringement and passing off. The Court of Appeal found that the use of both straplines amounted to an infringement and was unfair.

The Court of Appeal sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union which found that the use of a composite mark (a word mark superimposed over a logo mark) is capable of amounting to genuine use of a trade mark, provided that the use of the composite mark does not alter the distinctive character of the logo as registered. The case was then returned to the Court of Appeal for an application of the guidance provided by the European Court to the specific facts in question.

Whilst the infringement proceedings were concluded on terms confidential to the parties, the Court allowed Specsavers’ appeal relating to its trade mark. Accordingly, the wordless mark was not to be revoked for non-use.

The Judge indicated initially that Specsavers’ argument did not appear very convincing on the basis that the addition of the word ‘Specsavers’ was a highly distinctive and prominent delineating element when compared to the wordless mark. However, the Judge was persuaded by the following factors:-

• Specsavers had made very extensive use of the logo for a long period of time. In 2009 alone they had spent £45million on advertising

• None of their competitors have a logo even vaguely similar

• There was evidence that ASDA had deliberately adopted a logo similar to that of Specsavers. Therefore, it was reasonable to assume that ASDA were well aware that consumers would identify the overlapping ovals as denoting Specsavers, even without the addition of the word.

The wordless mark had itself been seen as a trade mark and not just as background. This all amounted to unusually convincing evidence of genuine use.

The Court dismissed the concern expressed by the Trade Marks Registrar (who had been permitted to intervene in the appeal) that allowing the appeal would result in many applications to register relatively commonplace outline shapes of logo marks. The Court were of the view that each case would be decided on its own facts but did note that this was an unusual case and it was generally unlikely that the background of a mark would be perceived as an indication of origin.

We at Blacks have a specialist Intellectual Property team dealing with all aspects of trademarks and any disputes arising.


Please contact Luke Patel on 01132279316

or by email at LPatel@LawBlacks.com


Tragic death of daughter ‘may have triggered mum’s suicide’

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Coroners have released the name of the woman who killed herself in a Shipley supermarket.

sobia asda suicide2
Sobia Yousef stabbed herself in the neck on Tuesday 25th March morning in Asda and died in the store just after 8.30am.

The 36-year-old of Beamsley Road, Frizinghall, was said to have been driven to despair after losing her nine-year-old daughter to a terminal illness five months ago.

Members of the community said Sobia’s world fell apart when the daughter she was devoted to lost her battle with a terminal illness. The mother had since been suffering from mental health problems.

Neighbours have spoken of how the woman was often seen in an emotional and distressed state.

Questions are now being raised about the level of care and her treatment, which she had received at Lynfield Mount psychiatric hospital in Bradford, and if the authorities were at grasps with her extreme mental state.

asda shipley - sobia suicide