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Buachaill
Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10189
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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We are a company who set up in business 3 months ago as school

Customer Question

We are a company who set up in business 3 months ago as school uniform suppliers. We sent emails to various schools informing them that we would stock their uniforms. They did not respond. We assumed therefore that permission was granted. We produced their uniforms with logo etc. They are now denying receiving any emails and advising us that we cannot sell their uniform.
Where do I stand?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 3 years ago.

Buachaill :

1. YOur difficulty is that you did not get properly legally advised before you went into business. Essentially, each school uniform will have design rights attaching to it and there will be copyright and possibly other issues relating to the logo. Accordingly, you should essentially have sought a licence from each school to produce their school uniform. It was not sufficient to assume a licence merely because they did not respond to an email. At this stage you will have to enter into negotiations for a licence to sell the school uniform and to licence the logos. Otherwise you can be injuncted for selling the uniforms. You may also find that no shop will stock your uniforms if the school gets wind that you are selling them somewhere. Additionally damages will be payable by you for selling the school uniforms without a licence.

Buachaill :

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JACUSTOMER-qf3qqgc3- : Surely licences are not always issued. We have a verbal agreement with one school where they have allowed us to sell their uniform.
JACUSTOMER-qf3qqgc3- : Please review the below emails sent to which we received no reply. We must have some grounds based on the wording.Dear Mrs Chard I am informed by a member of our staff that you visited our premises today and questioned whether we would be supplying uniforms for Springfield School. I would like to refer you to the below emails which I sent to you on the 5th November 2012 and the 27th January 2013 where I clearly outlined our intentions. I believe you have been given ample opportunity to come back to us with a refusal – which we did not receive. We clearly stated that we would be selling your uniforms and informed you to contact us if you had any queries. We received no communication, which was obviously construed as a positive response. We would have expected being in a prominent position as yours (Head of Springfield School) if you had any objections, you would have replied to our emails straight away. I have to inform you that production of the uniform is now complete and we are expecting delivery this week. We have spent a considerable amount of time and resources in producing the uniforms. The uniform is of a very high quality and competitively priced. I would be more than happy to meet with you to show you the samples, if you so require. So that you are aware, we have secured contracts with various schools in the Sale and Timperley areas and have been in the business of supplying uniforms as a wholesaler to schools and retail outlets for many years. We are certainly not new to this kind of business. I hope this now clarifies all matters. If you have any further queries, please reply to this email. Kind regards Zaynul KeshaniFusion X Designs-------- Original Message --------Subject: RE: back2schooldirect.comFrom: <[email protected]>Date: Sun, January 27, 2013 5:02 pmTo: [email protected] Mrs ChardFollowing on from my email below, please note that our business premises will be located at 22 Town Square, Sale Town Centre, Sale.The production of uniforms is already in progress and we are hoping to stock the full uniform range for your school by April 2013.We will update you further in due course.Kind regardsMr Keshani-------- Original Message --------Subject: back2schooldirect.comFrom: <[email protected]>Date: Mon, November 05, 2012 10:54 amTo: [email protected] the Attention of the Acting Head Teacher, Mrs ChardDear Mrs ChardWe are a company which is a stockist of school uniforms. We operate an online shop and are shortly going to be opening an outlet in Sale town centre.As a matter of courtesy, we would like to inform you that we will be carrying stock of the full range of uniforms of your school. Our products will be of a high quality & competitively priced.In the next few weeks, we will be marketing our outlet to the parents of your school. We would be happy to provide you with consent to insert our company details on your website, if you so wish.Please do not hesitate to contact us, should you require any further information or have any queries.Kind regardsMr Keshani
Buachaill :

2. If parties rely upon their rights, then a licence will issue or some agreement will be reached as to the providing of uniforms. You don't seem to realise that where there are legal rights involved, parties can rely upon them. Accordingly, it is within the legal right of each school to restrict who provides their school uniforms, if the uniforms have been designed by someone and if there is a logo to which copyright attaches. I note that you have an agreement with one school. This is fine. You can sell that school's uniforms. However, I am merely advising you as a matter of law that you can be prevented from selling school uniforms by any school which does not agree to it. Whether you once sent them an email requesting a right to sell them makes not one blind bit of difference. You cannot of your own wish just ignore the law.

Buachaill :

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JACUSTOMER-qf3qqgc3- : How many school uniform shops do you honestly think follow this law and surely it is courteous for a school to answer emails of this nature rather than mislead and turn a blind eye until perhaps a competitive supplier makes a complaint. What do you suggest we do with the uniforms manufactured already - of course we need to sell if not in our shop than to market traders n what if the school crest has not been registered as a copyright - can v sell these then?
Buachaill :

3. Copyright is an unregistered right. There is no need to register it in order for copyright to exist. Accordingly all of those school uniforms with a logo have copyright attaching to them. So, the reality is that you can be sued if you sell them and you will have to pay damages to the school or whoever owns the copyright in the logo. So the bottom line is that you cannot sell them without incurring further legal liability. You really should have obtained legal advice before you expended money in manufacturing the school uniforms. Now you are caught in a bind, with product manufactured but which you are unable to sell. In future when someone does not reply to you, do not presume that they have agreed to your course of action.

Buachaill :

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JACUSTOMER-qf3qqgc3- : What are my options?
Buachaill :

4. Your principal option is to sell the uniforms abroad where English copyright does not run and where the identity of the seller may not be known. However, I would advise you not to make any more uniforms. Before you sell any more uniforms, get the consent of the schools or get a copyright licence. In future when you are intending selling school uniforms get the consent of the schools in advance. Don't merely send an email. Go and meet the people concerned and get their consent.

Buachaill :

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JACUSTOMER-qf3qqgc3- : Last question. If a school informs me that they cannot allow me to sell uniforms because they have a sole supplier who gives the school commission on all uniforms sold. Is this legal practice and allowed by law? Seems like ‘back handers’ to me.
Buachaill :

5. This is perfectly legal practice. Essentially, this is a licence fee arrangement which is perfectly lawful, I regret to say.

Buachaill :

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