A moron in a hurry

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A moron in a hurry is a hypothetical person against whom a claimant's concern might be judged in a civil law action for passing off or trademark infringement. The expression is used to reject a claim that two items could reasonably be confused by a passer-by: that "only a moron in a hurry" would be confused. If the items offered for sale are distinct, the goodwill and brand of one trader cannot be affected by another's.

Case law[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The phrase was first used by Mr. Justice Foster in the 1978 English legal case of Morning Star Cooperative Society v Express Newspapers Limited [1979] FSR 113.[1] In this case, the publishers of the Morning Star, a British Communist Party publication, sought an injunction to prevent Express Newspapers from launching their new tabloid, which was to be called the Daily Star. The judge was unsympathetic. He asked whether the plaintiffs could show:

a misrepresentation express or implied that the newspaper to be published by the defendants is connected with the plaintiffs' business and that as a consequence damage is likely to result to the plaintiffs

and stated that:

If one puts the two papers side by side I for myself would find that the two papers are so different in every way that only a moron in a hurry would be misled.

In the same year, the phrase was quoted in the same context in the case of Newsweek Inc. v. British Broadcasting Corp. [1979] R.P.C. 441 by Lord Denning.[2]


In Canada the phrase was first considered in C.M.S. Industries Ltd. v. UAP Inc. (2002 SKQB 303), where the court held that UAP had infringed the plaintiff's trademark.[3] Four years later, in Mattel, Inc. v. 3894207 Canada Inc., the Supreme Court of Canada moved away from the "moron" analysis, adopting in its place consideration of an "ordinary hurried purchase",[4] a standard between that of a "moron" and a "careful and diligent purchaser". Mattel is now the standard in Canada.

United States[edit]

Attorney Marc J. Randazza cited "a moron in a hurry" as a defence in Beck v. Eiland-Hall for his client's use of Glenn Beck's name in a parody website.


  1. ^ Miller, Jeffrey (2003). Where There's Life, There's Lawsuits". ECW Press. pp. 125–126. ISBN 1-55022-501-4. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  2. ^ NEWSWEEK INC. v. BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION. "Report of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases". Oxford University Press (High Court of Justice—Chancery Division (The Stationery Office)). 1979. ISSN 1756-1000. Retrieved 18 February 2014. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "C.M.S. Industries Ltd. v. UAP Inc., SKQB 303 (CanLII) 2002". 22 July 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Mattel, Inc. v. 3894207 Canada Inc., 2006 SCC 22, [2006] 1 SCR 772". 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 

See also[edit]