Online dating company EasyDate has bowed to the threat of legal action from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and agreed to change its name.
The company, which operates 12 sites including DatetheUK and Loopylove, announced yesterday that it plans to rename itself Cupid, the name of a site it bought in September.
EasyDate chief executive Bill Dobbie said: "Cupid is a name with worldwide appeal and positive connotations that we believe describes the company perfectly." The company, which listed on the Alternative Investment Market at the end of June, will put the name change to a shareholder vote on January 11.
The move follows pressure from easyGroup, which claimed the company was "taking unfair advantage of the strong reputation of the easy brand".
Sir Stelios responded to the news yesterday, saying he was "delighted that EasyDate has now done the right thing and decided to change its name so there will no longer be any confusion that EasyDate is part of the easyGroup family."
The problems emerged shortly after EasyDate's acquisition of Cupid, when Mr Dobbie told a newspaper that he "wouldn't be surprised if I was to get a letter from easyGroup" over the similarity of the names.
EasyGroup's response was that not only was Mr Dobbie aware that it had already sent a letter complaining ofinfringement and threatening further action but that the chief executive had responded. Sir Stelios said at the time: "I am surprised this sort of statement is coming from a listed company."
EasyDate was forced to frantically back-peddle on the statement, saying Mr Dobbie's comments were only meant for guidance and he "now realises that his response was confusing and has apologised for this". A spokesman said yesterday it made sense to change the EasyDate name rather than be embroiled in a potentially costly legal battle. He added that EasyDate was purely the name of the holding company and was never one of its dating site brands. "EasyDate may have given off the wrong signals as a customer facing website," he added.
Sir Stelios is fiercely protective of the "easy" branding and even threatened in July to remove the name from the airline he founded unless performance improved.
The two sides settled the dispute in October with a multi-million pound-a-year royalties deal Sir Stelios described as "win-win".