Settlement reached in Mike Ashley v TK Maxx brand dispute

The CEO of Frasers Group PLC reached an undisclosed settlement with TJX UK over the name of outlet 'Brand Max'.

A settlement has been reached between Retail Ltd and TK Maxx’s parent company, TJX UK, after a high court case.

Mr Justice Miles, who presided over the virtual high court trial, approved the out-of-court settlement.

TJX UK originally sued Retail Ltd, part of Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group PLC, over similarities in the name of its outlet ‘Brand Max’.

TJX UK said it has trademark protection, and claimed the name of the ‘designer outlet’ and its sale of discounted third-party products may lead to confusion with TK Maxx. Retail Ltd argued the claim was based on the use of the word ‘max’, and said the brand itself bore very little similarity to TK Maxx visually and aurally. It said TJX UK cannot establish “infringement” and that the claim should be dismissed.

Ian Purvis QC, for Retail Ltd, said: “The average consumer, a high street shopper, who is used to distinguishing between different brands based on an assessment of their trading names and logos, will not be confused.”

Simon Malynicz QC, for TJX UK, said: “Rather than distinguishing itself from TK Maxx, and adopting a name that would stand apart and catch attention in a new way, the defendant decided not only that the new business should mimic the look and feel of TK Maxx stores but that it should trade under the (Brand Max) brand.”

Malynicz said the brand, launched in 2017, was looking to compete “head-to-head” with TK Maxx in the same niche, and said the name was clearly intended to cause customers to connect the brand with the well-established store chain.

TK Maxx was launched in the UK in 1994, and now has more than 340 stores across the country. Brand Max trades from 18 stores in the UK and Ireland.

Sports Direct International PLC became Frasers Group PLC in 2019 after CEO Mike Ashley purchased several other companies including LA Gear, No Fear, Hot Tuna and Debenhams. Ashley also owns football team Newcastle United. 

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