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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70284
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have just set up a new business which specialisies soley

Resolved Question:

I have just set up a new business which specialisies soley in pet deals called Pawcher. A friend has just raised a concern that this sounds too much like Wowcher who also offer deals but across several sectors in the UK. Could my business be pinalised for also playing on the word voucher?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Are you claiming on the word "voucher" or Wowcher?

How far into the business are you and how much have you spent setting it up?

Where did you come up with the name?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,


 


Not sure which word we would be claiming on?


 


I came up with the name as I wanted a company name that played on the word voucher/coupon or deal that had a reference to the pet industry in it. We came up with the name in February and we registered the company then and have thus started to develop the site and branding for launch from there. We haven't launched yet.


 


Thanks,


 


Marcella

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Sorry, that was a dictation error!

Claiming on” should have been “playing on”.

I think your friend has probably done you a good turn because whilst this is obviously a play on the words Paw and Voucher , I think it is dangerously close to Wowcher.

Wowcher of course probably have more money than you have and if they were to go to court for an injunction to stop you using the name on the basis that you are passing off as them or trying to live of the back of their reputation, they would certainly get one in the short term even if it went to a full hearing and they subsequently lost.

Meanwhile, you could face considerable solicitor’s costs in dealing with their injunction application and loss of business in the interim.

There is no guarantee that if they went to court they would get an order to stop you trading in the long term but they could do immeasurable damage in the short term and whilst you have not yet started business and incurred any costs, you might seriously want to reconsider the name or be prepared, if Wowcher take exception to this, to enter into some protracted and potentially risky and therefore costly litigation.

I’m sorry that this is bad news for you.

Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for getting back to me, I had an inclination that would be the case and I'm pleased I asked prior to launch. How do I check if I can use a name for future reference? Is there a website I can consult?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
You can search the Trade Marks Register at the Intellectual Property Office.

However just because something is not registered does not necessarily mean that someone else is not using it now and they could bring a claim for passing off they could stop you trading.

If you had a business called Pawcher which was not anything to do with vouchers was a business (for example) dog grooming, then Wowcher would have virtually no chance of bringing a successful passing off action. It is not just the name or the type of the business that a court would look at , but it would look at the thing as a whole and not just that the name or the business in isolation
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