'Red' magazine wins masthead battle

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The Independent Online

When Real magazine redesigned its logo nearly three years ago, the rival women's glossy Red feared readers would be confused by the similarity to its own masthead and began a legal challenge. After two and a half years, the case was due to come to court today, but at the 11th hour, it was settled out of court, with the publishers of Real agreeing to change the magazine's logo and to pay costs which could be as much as £1m.

At the heart of the case is Red's distinctive logo - white cursive lettering against a red background.

"Passing off" cases rarely come to court, as it is unusual to find witnesses prepared to give evidence that they have been confused by similarities between brands. But Red's lawyers found 16 readers prepared to testify that they had bought Real, believing it to be Red.

Chris Hutchings of m law, the lawyers representing Red's publisher, Hachette, said: "The Red brand is original and distinctive. It is essential to prevent confusion in the marketplace."

Launched in 1998, Red tapped into the newly identified phenomenon of "middle youth", spawning a new genre of magazines for women in their thirties.

Julie Harris, the general manager of women's magazines at Hachette, said: "... they were certainly trying to reach a thirty-something market and they were often stacked on the shelves near Red. It's been an annoyance to us."

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