There are countless things for founders to worry about when trying to get a start-up off the ground, finance, production, marketing, supply and staffing levels to name but a few. For Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham, that list stretched to engaging in a lengthy and bizarre row about the semantics of the word “marshmallow”.
Having decided to name their company — an insurance provider for drivers who were born overseas, after the marshmallow — they were dismayed when Marsh, the 113-year-old international insurance giant, got in touch to demand they change their name before the London-based start-up had even begun trading.
Marsh opposed Marshmallow’s trademark registration on the basis that the two names could be “easily confused by members of the public”. Despite the huge imbalance in power and against much of the advice they were given, the twins, 26, decided to fight.
The costs would have been much higher if the dispute had reached the courts. With that in mind, Gregor Kleinknecht, a partner at Hunters Solicitors, believes that the intellectual property office “provides a cost-effective and often successful mediation service specifically for trademark disputes”.
Mr Kleinknecht cited the example of a small business that his firm had represented when a big European carmaker brought a trademark infringement claim. The claim was successfully resolved by mediation, with the small business not having to pay for damages or the other side’s legal costs but agreeing to make “minor adjustments to its own branding”. The dispute turned into an opportunity for a rebrand.
Read the full article in The Times here, behind a paywall.