Ending the trade mark battle of the eco warriors

Ending the trade mark battle of the eco warriors
Mama Bamboo

In a ‘David and Goliath’ style trade mark dispute, eco-sustainable baby products provider, Mama Bamboo, fight off legal pressures from an EU wide firm, thanks to the support of Harper James.

Mama Bamboo are award winning eco warriors in the sanitary care for babies’ market. They offer bamboo-based products for babies up to 36 months old, including nappies, wipes, and nappy bags. Their main commitment is to make a difference to the planet, and they have certainly achieved this with their B-Corp accreditation, the highest verified standards for social care and environmental performance there is. However, in the summer of 2021 Mama Bamboo’s brand came under attack.

Laura Crawford, CEO and founder of Mama Bamboo, was contacted by a corporate law firm to request the company cancel their legitimate, and officially registered UK trade mark. The EU company, the law firm represented, claimed that Mama Bamboo’s previous brand name and registered trade mark, Bamaboo, was too close to their own EU trade mark, and they wanted Laura to cancel her trade mark.

‘It came out of the blue. We were totally blindsided by the request. I was frustrated as we had legally used all the proper channels in the UK and had been trading under the mark for 3 years.’ said Laura.

Both firms, who provide bamboo-based baby sanitary products, do have similar registered trade marks, however Mama Bamboo only trades in the UK. The EU firm were requesting that Mama Bamboo cancel their trade mark in the UK and cease using the name.

Mama Bamboo, who had already rebranded from Bamaboo, still used their previous brand for marketing purposes. When the company’s products were branded Bamaboo, they had received several awards, accolades and reviews, and were using the Bamaboo name on social media. So, though they were not using the brand name anymore, they were still utilising their registered trade mark.

Laura felt pressure to cancel her trade mark and was already in discussions to agree on a settlement before she contacted Harper James. Laura was happy to stop using the trade mark Bamaboo but maintain the registration on the trade mark Bamaboo. However, the EU firm were not backing down. They were placing further pressure on Laura to cancel the Bamaboo trade mark.

Feeling frustrated that she had worked tirelessly building the reputation for the Bamaboo brand, she wasn’t willing to give it up easily.

Laura contacted Harper James to seek advice in order to keep the registered trade mark Bamaboo and agree to cease using the Bamaboo name for marketing purposes. Laura feared that the EU firm would register the UK trade mark themselves and become a direct competitor to Mama Bamboo.

Lindsay Gledhill, intellectual property solicitor at Harper James said ‘Laura has great commercial instincts. She had presented a succinct logical position to the opposing firm and to the tribunal. She also had the clear-sightedness to know when it was time to call in a trade marks professional. The opponent’s representatives were professional and courteous – but they were under no obligation to secure a deal that worked for Laura – quite the opposite in fact. We operate within an adversarial system and Laura recognised she needed equality of arms in order to push back and get a sustainable deal.’

Lindsay helped Mama Bamboo keep their registered trade mark, keeping potential UK competition at bay. Harper James also negotiated that the EU firm would formally agree to not register the Bamaboo name anywhere across the world, allowing Mama Bamboo to have the option to trade globally in the future.

‘Lindsay and the Harper James team have been incredibly supportive and helpful. I could not be more pleased with their service and the end result. It has avoided a costly and potentially difficult rebrand for Mama Bamboo.’

Since the incident, Harper James has managed the trade mark portfolio for Mama Bamboo, who has now entered our popular Enterprise scheme. Mama Bamboo now has access to industry leading trade mark management software and a senior trade marks formalities officer to keep their clients trade marks protected.

Lindsay said ‘Having a legal professional protect and manage Mama Bamboo’s portfolio will allow Laura and the team continue growing their business without fear that their brand is in jeopardy. It will also give Laura peace of mind that we are on hand to protect her company’s trade mark and keep the company legal and compliant. And we’re always on hand to offer advice and help the company with their strategy to utilise their intellectual property.

‘It’s also important to know that you can seek legal advice at any stage during a dispute, and you should not agree to anything where, your business and brand is concerned, without seeking legal advice.’

Laura said ‘Prior to joining the Enterprise Scheme, I was attempting to manage all the firms’ legal issues myself and finding it a huge struggle. Being part of the Enterprise scheme allows Mama Bamboo to access legal advice at an affordable rate. Something which is always worry for a small firm when considering seeking legal support. The scheme allows us to protect our business whilst we focus on our growth plans.’

Our intellectual property expert

Lindsay Gledhill

Lindsay Gledhill

Intellectual Property Partner
Lindsay is an Intellectual Property Partner at Harper James. She has specialised in intellectual property exploitation and dispute resolution since 1997. She trained and qualified in Cambridge’s top intellectual property firm during the 'dot com boom', then spent four years at top 50 firm, Walker Morris.

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