Protecting your brand: a costly lesson learned…

8 September, 2017

Paul Hollywood hit the headlines again this week, but this time for all the wrong reasons. He has been accused of bully boy tactics after being drawn into a dispute with an established bakery business, “Knead Bakes”, over the use of its business name.

Despite being a successful business, established three years ago and supplying major names such as Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason and Harvey Nichols, Knead Bakes has been threatened by legal action by Mr Hollywood’s legal advisers unless they change their name.

The existing business is suffering from its failure to take basic steps to protect it’s name when it first established. Paul Hollywood has since registered a trade mark under the name “Knead” in connection with his new bakery store to open at Euston station later this month.

Registering a trade mark is often seen as a daunting task and an unnecessary expense by a fledgling business, but a failure to take basic steps to protect your brand can cost you dear in the long run, as Knead Bakes is now discovering.

Trade marks are, put simply, a ‘badge of origin’, helping consumers to connect to a business. By registering a mark, a business can prevent others from using identical or similar branding going forward. Trade marks can be registered at two levels, either UK or European wide. The cost can vary significantly so the former option is often preferred by start ups, but this can be short sighted if the business plan is to expand across the continent.

It is possible to register trade marks over a wide range of forms. Most people associate marks connected to word, numbers or images but it is becoming more common place to trade mark more exotic marks such as smells, sounds and colours.

The key for any new business is to think about protecting the brand early. That includes not only trade marks but also registering company names, domain names and putting policies in place to ensure the business’s image is used consistently across all media.

The apparent failure of Knead Bakes to take these basic steps could mean the goodwill they have worked so hard to generate in the last three years is lost, and they will need to re-establish themselves under a new image going forward. For a good product, with an established market, this may not be the end of the world, but we suspect the time and cost (both monetary and emotional) this will entail would have been better spent elsewhere.