Man City ask High Court to dismiss trademark claim from Superdry over training kit

Kevin De Bruyne wearing Manchester City's training top before their Premier League match against Sheffield United
Manchester City were hit with a lawsuit in December from fashion label Superdry - Getty Images/Matt McNulty

Manchester City’s owners have asked the High Court to dismiss a trademark infringement claim against them from Superdry and to order the fashion label to pay their legal costs.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport, the Treble winners were hit with a lawsuit in December over the sponsorship of their training kit by beer brand Asahi Super “Dry”.

It can now be disclosed that a defence was filed last week to the claim against the club’s parent company, City Football Group (CFG), courtesy of top intellectual property barrister Michael Silverleaf KC of 11 South Square.

CFG’s defence contested Superdry’s request for the court to grant an “injunction to restrain” City from using its name and award it damages it said at the time it was “presently unable to quantify”.

Last week’s filing also laid out a series of denials to Superdry’s claim that the fashion brand’s trademark had been infringed by the use of the Super “Dry” logo on clothing apparel and that the differences between the two “may go unnoticed by the average consumer”.

The defence read: “The placing of promotional logos on sportswear and other sporting goods and equipment has long been an established practice in many sports. In professional association football the placing of a primary sponsor’s logo on the front chest or midriff of a player’s clothing is routine and practically universal and it is never the case that Premier League football clubs place more than one sponsor’s logo in this position. In the premises the average consumer seeing the Asahi logo on the Manchester City training kit (both as worn by the players and as intended to be sold and supplied to the public as replica kit) will recognise it as present thereon for the purpose of promoting Asahi Super ‘Dry’ 0.0% alcohol free lager.”

The defence went on to state that Superdry had “suffered and will suffer no damage” and that CFG had “no reason to think that its activities would have any impact” on the fashion company’s brand or business.

It concluded: “In the premises it is denied that the claimants are entitled to the relief claimed or any relief. On the contrary, the defendant is entitled to dismissal of the claimants’ claim and in order that the judgement in this action be disseminated at the claimants’ expense and to an order that the claimants pay its costs of these proceedings.”

In Superdry’s original claim, Philip Roberts KC, acting for Fox Williams LLP, warned of a demand for the “destruction or modification upon oath of all goods and other items... [which] would constitute a breach of the injunctions”.

The claim included several pictures of City players in training kit and detailed how the club announced in July that “Super ‘Dry’ Asahi 0.0%” would be carried on sportswear, including “long-sleeved zip tops and short-sleeved shirts”.

The legal battle is not the first involving the use of the same brand name by Cheltenham-based Superdry and Japanese beer giant Asahi.