Scots entrepreneur Simon Phillips spent more than a year designing his underwear brand – Crown Jools – and had hoped to launch it in time for the Christmas shopping rush.
But when the art director from Edinburgh began to put the final touches to his online product launch, he found himself embroiled in a legal challenge from nationwide clothing firm Joules, which claimed it also planned to create a range of underwear under its own “Crown Joules” moniker.
“I was in the final stages of getting the trademark registered – the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) had checked that no-one else had registered the name and it all seemed fine,” said Phillips. “Then, at the point it was publicly advertised, which is the final part of the process, I was told that there had been an opposition to the registration.”
Phillips, whose design features a logo with the “o” replaced by royal orbs, received a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of Joules, demanding that he withdraw the application.
“We have advised our client that it is entitled to issue court proceedings and seek, amongst other things, an injunction preventing you from either applying the mark to goods or their packaging or importing such goods into the UK,” said the letter.
The legal team offered that Joules was happy to come to an “amicable” agreement with Phillips without going to court – providing he agreed to all of the company’s demands.
But Phillips, who claims to have so far spent around £40,000 on setting up his new company, insists he will not be beaten. He has now sent a counter-blast to the IPO, detailing the widespread use of the term “crown jewels”.
“It is a well-known slang term which has been in use since the 1970s,” he said. “I don’t see that my brand has anything to do with theirs.”
Joules did not return telephone calls.