It’s not often that the little guy gets to win in this world.
While the David vs Goliath narrative is tempting and entrancing, more often than not the sad and cynical principle of ‘right is might’ wins out with a frequency which can be a tad depressing to backers of the underdog.
This is particularly true in the corporate arena and even more so in lawsuits from that world, where the big dogs like to swing their weight around and crush smaller competition through sheer force of capital or legal heft.
So it should please all fans of common sense and basic justice that this week the insurance world saw not one, but two smaller companies win out in their legal battles over alleged trademark infringements that to this author’s mind were tenuous at best.
In the UK high court yesterday, Richard Brindle’s Fidelis was found not to have breached the copyright of investment powerhouse Fidelity by having the audacity to share a common Latin root, while insurtech start-up Marshmallow succeeded in defending itself against broking giant Marsh over similar claims.
Both of these claims clearly have dubious foundations.
Companies are of course entitled to defend their brand, particularly when in the case of Marsh and Fidelity the reputation associated with it is strong and necessary to the firm’s success, but the idea that either Fidelis or Marshmallow could pose a threat to the businesses of Fidelity and Marsh ventures into the absurd.
Fidelis is very clearly a specialty insurance company which trades on the relationships and expertise of its management team - it does not provide retirement services to New England pensioners or investment advice and ETFs.
Similarly Marshmallow, a one-year-old start-up which specialises in providing car insurance to foreign-born drivers in the UK, is not going to be mistaken for a $40bn+ market cap broker with a 114 year history.
To the layman, those of us not entirely au fait with the intricacies of legal semantics, these cases have been pretty clear cut.
All they have done from the perspective of Marsh and Fidelity is to make the companies into the bully boys publicly, with the two coming across throughout their respective cases as petty.
And that is not to speak of the costs of the disputes to the UK taxpayer, who foots the bill for the many hours of court time wasted on these cases. Though I am sure the lawyers are more than happy to have spent their time here.
Large corporations too often can dominate smaller competitors with a swipe of their large paws simply by burying them in lawsuits.
In these two cases, let’s take a moment and appreciate that not only did the Davids win here, but that common sense did as well.