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The £10M launch of HFC's Internet-based credit card set for 10 days' time is about to run into a law suit because it's using the same name as an existing public relations agency - "marbles".

The £10M launch of HFC's Internet-based credit card set for 10 days' time is about to run into a law suit because it's using the same name as an existing public relations agency - "marbles".

I wrote about the Henley-based PR outfit objecting to the duplication a couple of days ago. Since then the temperature has risen. Susanna Beard , one of the PR firm's directors, says: "We're talking to our lawyers. We feel we've got a case".

Ms Beard admits that HFC, a finance house owned by the US giant Household International, contacted them when it originally planned its marketing campaign. "Obviously we weren't terribly happy about it. We've been using the marbles logo for 8 years," says Ms Beard.

The crunch came when HFC failed to offer to pay anything for the Internet rights to the name. Marbles the agency is now considering a copyright action against HFC for their use of "an extremely similar logo".

Martin Rutland , communications director at HFC, says that nothing will deflect their launch: "We operate in completely different markets. No one is going to confuse a PR agency with financial services."

He adds: "We're slightly mystified. Their stance has changed slightly. They were originally talking about possible customer confusion between the two businesses. Now its a question of copyright."

Coincidentally, HFC itself sued HSBC over possible customer confusion about their names, when the London-based institution began rebranding all the UK Midland bank branches as HSBC.

After losing the first round, Mr Rutland says the matter is still with the High Court. "We are seeing if we can get leave to appeal. But HSBC are operating in exactly the same sector. In some cases they have branches right next to ours."

Only one thing is certain. It's all good news for m'learned friends.

Martin Broughton , executive chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT), was dead chuffed to be selected this month as the new Independent Director of the British Horseracing Board (BHB) from more than 100 applicants. He was a bit taken aback, however, by some people's reaction to the two-year appointment, particularly the suggestion that he has lined the BHB up as his "retirement job".

Mr Broughton, who is also a non-exec at Whitbread, says: "Its news to me. At just 52 I've no intention of retiring."

The former Westminster City Grammar School boy joined BAT in 1971 as a travelling auditor. He has been a keen follower of the Turf for many years. He currently has four horses in training with Henrietta Knight , a prominent national hunt trainer.

After a number of major reforms to the racing industry in recent years the BHB now runs most of industry, with the Jockey Club still hanging on to disciplinary matters.

Trevor Wing , a marketing director in his mid-40s, has left one of Britain's most innovative technology companies to study oriental medicine, with the ultimate aim of becoming a doctor.

Mr Wing was marketing director until a month ago of Imagination Technologies Group, a software development and licensing company based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.

Hossein Yassaie , founder and chief executive of the fully listed company, which developed the graphics for the new Sega Dreamcast games machine, says: "We wish Mr Wing well. He will remain a consultant to the company. He's always had an interest in oriental medicine, and decided it was 'now or never'."

Carl Chambers has bailed out of Coutts & Co, the private banking arm of NatWest, where he was head of corporate finance, to head up the same function at The Freedom Group of Companies.

Freedom emerged in 1996 as a management buyout of the former Yorkshire Electricity building maintenance department. Even so it should enjoy a rather more certain future than Coutts, the Queen's bank, which looks likely to be sold off by whoever wins the battle for NatWest.

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