S. African businessman wins legal battle against Virgin boss Branson

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Cape Town (S. Africa), Feb.4 (ANI): A South African businessman has won a court battle against Virgin Enterprises boss Sir Richard Branson over the use of the trademark "Virgin" in an advertising slogan of 10 words.

Forty-four-year-old Dmitri Philippou said that he felt "ecstatic" after his legal victory.

"When it's a massive organisation like that (Virgin Enterprises), you start panicking a bit. I had more than a few sleepless nights," Philippou said.

He said that he set up Bodtrade, a company specialising in intellectual property and branding, in 2007. He came up with the marketing slogan: "You can't be a virgin all your life it's time", though he admits punctuation is not his strong point.

The Guardian quoted him as saying: "It's saying that it's time to try something new for the first time. You can put whatever subject you want after it."

Philippou applied to register the phrase at the British Intellectual Property Office because of its global reputation. It put him on collision course with Virgin.

"I didn't think it would be an issue because virgin is only one word in the sentence of 10 words. But then my attorney said he received opposition - and five lever-arch files of why we need to be stopped. It was quite intimidating. You do feel a little bit threatened. I never put a figure on how much I could have lost."

Philippou said Virgin Enterprises filed its objection in February 2008, arguing that third-party use would trade on its hard-won reputation.

The arguments were heard last year by the office, which noted that the earliest use of the word in trademarks was in 1971 when Virgin Records was registered. It found in Philippou's favour and rdered Virgin to pay 1500 pounds towards his legal costs. (ANI)

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