Glasgow undertakers battle over funeral firm names

One of the funeral homes at the centre of the legal wrangling
One of the funeral homes at the centre of the legal wrangling
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A WAR has broken out between two rival firms of STUART MACDONALD engaged in a legal battle over name rights.

Desmond Maguire, who runs a self-titled funeral directors in Glasgow, said rival city firm Anderson Maguire was trying to attract business by duping potential customers of his company.

His remarks came after ­Anderson Maguire founder Dominic Maguire launched a bid to trademark the name “D Maguire” for exclusive use by his business. Desmond Maguire, who is not related to his rival, claimed the name would damage his business as clients would get the two mixed up.

The naming rights row came to a head at a legal hearing held by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which rules on trademark disputes. Hearing officer Allan Jones ruled Anderson Maguire could not change its name as it would deceive customers of Desmond Maguire.

Desmond Maguire, a former employee of Anderson Maguire, told the legal hearing that he formed his business in January 2006 and started trading at this time. Mr Maguire said he has arranged more than 1,000 funerals over the last eight years.

He also produced affidavits from the Rev Neil Galbraith, the former moderator of the Glasgow presbytery Church of Scotland, and the Right Rev John Keenan, the Bishop of Paisley.

Both men backed up his case and cast doubt on claims by Anderson Maguire that the name “D Maguire” was already synonymous with their business.

Dominic Maguire, a past President of the National Association of Funeral Directors, told the IPO he has appeared on television and in other media promoting the funeral directors’ industry.

He said it is widely known that Dominic Maguire is Anderson Maguire and that there is, and never has been, anyone in the business called Anderson.

He argued customers would not be confused by the name change. It emerged that when Desmond Maguire set up his business, Anderson Maguire had launched an unsuccessful court action to stop him trading under his own name.

In his ruling, Mr Jones said: “I find that a substantial number of the opponent’s customers or potential customers in and around Glasgow are likely to be deceived by the applicant’s use of D MAGUIRE for the services covered by the application.”

He added: “The public would be highly likely to assume that D MAGUIRE was a shortening of DESMOND MAGUIRE. Where the services of the parties are effectively the same, this would be bound to damage the opponent’s business through diversion of the opponent’s trade to the applicant, and by the opponent losing control of its reputation with the public.”

Yesterday, Dominic Maguire said: “We feel we have taken the necessary action in this case to protect our business. We have abandoned the ‘D Maguire’ trademark in light of this but we are in discussions with Desmond Maguire’s lawyers about registering the name ‘Dominic Maguire’.”

A source said: “It’s a bizarre situation and there is certainly no love lost between the two men.

“The problem is there are two funeral directors in Glasgow with the surname ‘Maguire’ and the first initial ‘D’. They are not related and it’s difficult legally for both of them to stop each other using their own name.”

Mr Jones also ordered Anderson Maguire to pay Desmond Maguire £1,200 in costs.

Desmond Maguire was ­unavailable for comment.