A High Court judge quoted one of the rescuers of survivors from the Titanic when resolving a bitter trademark dispute involving Linthwaite's Titanic Spa.
The row ended up in court after the owners of Titanic Spa, a luxury venue based in Huddersfield, and those of the Titanic Hotel Liverpool –which also includes a spa – each argued the other was trespassing on their brand.
Mr Justice Henry Carr recited a passage written by Captain Arthur H Rostron, the captain of RMS Carpathia, who came to the aid of those who survived the wreckage of the infamous ocean liner.
He said: “(The Captain) wrote in his log: ‘Icebergs loomed up and fell astern and we never slackened. It was an anxious time with the Titanic’s fateful experience very close to our minds.’
“This seems a reasonable description of the commencement, continuance and possible outcome of this dispute.
“Both sides have valuable businesses and this is very high-risk litigation which puts in jeopardy the goodwill which Titanic Huddersfield and Titanic Liverpool have built up.”
The judge told the court in London that Titanic Spa, which opened in 2005, is housed in an Edwardian former textile mill known as Titanic Mills.
Built in 1911, the mill was so named because of its size, and the judge said the fact it opened in the same year as the launch of its namesake ship was a “coincidence.”
The spa now also offers overnight accommodation and turned over £4.8m last year, the judge said.
The Titanic Hotel Liverpool, in the city’s Stanley Dock, is a high-end destination opened in 2014 which contains a spa.
This feature of the business was initially called the “T-Spa”, but changed its name to “the Spa” and then to “Maya Blue Spa”, following complaints from the Huddersfield-based firm.
The judge said there was a “likelihood of confusion” in the names Titanic Spa and Titanic Hotel Liverpool, which in some cases had resulted in customers being “frustrated” that they had made a reservation at the wrong place.
He said one party of guests arrived in Liverpool in September last year, having mistakenly booked at the Huddersfield spa.
However, he added: “To drive to Liverpool, having reserved at an establishment which makes clear that it is located in Huddersfield, is the act of the proverbial ‘moron in a hurry’, as opposed to the average consumer.”
The judge said the steps already taken by the Liverpool hotel to rebrand its spa, along with other measures it has offered – including information on its website to clarify that it is not connected with the Huddersfield business – would address any issues.
He said: “Once those steps have been taken, I do not accept that there will be any misrepresentation, any real likelihood of damage to the goodwill of Titanic Huddersfield, or any real likelihood of diversion of trade.
“In those circumstances, the use of the name ‘Titanic Hotel Liverpool’ for a large hotel offering restaurant, conferencing, wedding facilities and a health and fitness facility does not constitute a misrepresentation that the hotel is operated by or connected with ‘Titanic Spa’ in Huddersfield.”
The judge concluded that the Huddersfield firm’s trademark had been infringed and found the Liverpool hotel could have been confused with it in the past, but not in future.
He also granted the Liverpool hotel’s owners a declaration that they are entitled to use the signs “Titanic Quarter” and “Titanic Quarter Hotel Liverpool.”