Emaco v Dyson Appliances Ltd

Reference: The Times, 8 Feb 1999

Court: Chancery Division

Judge: Jonathan Parker J

Date of judgment: 26 Jan 1999

Summary: Malicious falsehood - comparative advertising - registered trade marks - infringement - whether an inquiry as to damages should be ordered.

Appearances: Patrick Milmo KC - Leading Counsel (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Bristows for the Claimant


This was a dispute between Dyson and Electrolux, both manufacturers of vacuum cleaners. The dispute consisted of claim and counterclaim arising from an advertising battle between the two manufacturers.


Whether advertising statements made by both parties amounted to malicious falsehoods and whether each party had infringed the other’s trade mark. If so, whether there was sufficient damage to justify the ordering of an inquiry as to damages.


No malicious falsehood but each party’s use of the other’s trade mark in the course of comparative advertising was an infringement. Insufficient justification for taking up the court’s time in an account or inquiry which might ultimately prove fruitless.


The Judge’s starting point on the malicious falsehood cross-claims was to ascertain the meaning of the material of which complaint was made, applying the one meaning rule and the principles adopted in defamation cases as set out by the Court of Appeal in Skuse v Granada Television Limited [1996] EMLR 278. The issue of falsity was then judged by him against the single natural and ordinary meaning as so determined.