Businesses drool over thousands to be made

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British companies are planning to sell everything from cars to deodorants, flowers to exotic holidays by cashing in on the millennium and what they hope will be a frenzy of consumers looking to buy a slice of history. Most "millennium" goods are being planned behind closed doors and will not be launched until nearer the date, but some needed very long- term planning.

Bushmills Distillery, leading Irish whiskey makers, began making their millennium tipple in 1975.

Wealthy whiskey-lovers from across the world, including Star Trek actor LeVar Burton and Inspector Morse star John Thaw, have lined up to buy the single malt.

A spokesman said: "We have made 360 barrels and started selling them nearly three years ago. There was a real rush to buy them.

"The last one sold about a year ago. But they are a bit special, because each bottle comes with the buyer's name on the label."

A more blatant exploitation is planned by manufacturers who can simply re-brand their products with a "millennium" name.

Trevor Elliott, manager of Honda Motor Sports, said: "I think most car manufacturers will be planning to launch special editions of their existing ranges, but everyone is keeping quiet at the moment.

"It will probably be a marketing-led initiative, rather than the creation of new products. But most companies will want to do some kind of tie-in."

The range of millennium goods already on offer is eclectic. The Royal National Rose Society has a millennium range of roses in the horticulture market; there is a special scent from bodyspray makers Impulse and even a new millennium range of luggage from Antler.

Avon Cosmetics have already nabbed one of the scarce millennium patents with their Millennia perfume for women, which is said to "fuse past, present and future into an intoxicating blend of mystical spices".

Christian Brown, a spokesman for the company, said: "It is already our third-best-selling fragrance and we are planning to launch Millennia aftershave for men soon."

The Patent Office is now being inundated with companies rushing to register millennium trademarks.

Geoff Sargant, assistant director of marketing, said: "If companies are blatantly seeking to simply cash in on the event or day itself and use the term in a way that prevents someone else from doing so, they are unlikely to get the trademark."

British Airways are also laying plans for a high-flying celebration on Concorde. A spokesman said: "Nothing has been finalised yet, but we've had lots of inquiries from people who want to charter Concorde to New York and fly through three datelines. But we really want to do something which will benefit a lot of people."

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