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  • Writer's pictureRosie Burbidge

Brand investment pays off for Dr Martens

Dr Martens, the footwear and clothing brand that defined my teens, is launching an initial public offering (IPO) which could value the company at £3.7 billion! The company is currently majority owned by Permira (the UK private equity firm).

One reason behind this high valuation is that it is a fashion brand that truly recognises the value of its IP (even if it famously once failed to secure the copyright in its logo - see below!).* It sells 11 million pairs of boots and shoes each year and has defied the pandemic with sales of £318 million in the six months to September 2020.

The IPO is a significant landmark for a company that has continued to grow, and develop, since it was founded in the 1940s. Its success is in no small degree due to an active brand protection and IP enforcement programme. This programme goes further than just the obvious trade marks, such as Dr Martens/Doc Martens, but also looks at the distinctive trade dress such as the yellow stitching, the two-toned grooved sole edge and the sole pattern. An interesting article about its IP strategy was published in World Intellectual Property Review in 2016.

* This case - R. Griggs Group Ltd & Others v Evans & Others is an important lesson for fashion brands about the importance of securing an assignment from the design agency and original designer for all logos and other copyright works that are commissioned. Although Doc Martens ultimately prevailed on the basis that they were the equitable owner of copyright in the logo, a simple bit of paper would have confirmed legal title and saved everyone a lot of time. The High Court decision ([2003] EWHC 2914 (Ch)) and Court of Appeal decision ([2005] EWCA Civ 11)) are both available online.

To find out more about the issues raised in this blog contact Rosie Burbidge, Intellectual Property Partner at Gunnercooke LLP in London -


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