Herrods challenges the letter of the law

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The Independent Online
IF YOU pronounce the American fizzy drink as 'cake', then 'Herrods' might sound like your favourite Knightsbridge department store. But yesterday lawyers from Harrods were not amused.

Herrods of east London, a discount furniture shop in Bow, opened for business three weeks ago. The shopfront is painted Harrods green, lettering is in Harrods-style gold. You almost need a magnifying glass to see that the 'e' is not an 'a'.

People passing the shop yesterday asked the owner, Eddy Jeffrey, ' 'Ere, is this a branch of Harrods?'

Michael Cole, Harrods public relations chief, learned only yesterday that Mr Jeffrey was selling discount furniture. 'I suggest he now get himself a discount lawyer, quickly,' Mr Cole said.

Mr Jeffrey, whose business is mainly nightclubs, said: 'I knew this would happen. Surprised it took them three weeks really.' Letters from Harrods' solicitors, Freemans, have been received by Herrods. They warn of copyrighted script and name. And they give Herrods until today to end the imitation.

Last night Mr Jeffrey got out his ladder and climbed up to paint out the 'H' to leave just 'Errods. 'I'm going to milk this to death; this is the cheapest advertising gimmick you can buy.' Harrods care not. Mr Cole said: 'We have a trade mark and we protect it. In this case there is no humour or parody, just straight reproduction.'

Other attempts at imitation had, Mr Cole admitted, brought the occasional smile. They had smiled at discoverying a 'Harrabs' and had chuckled as a Glasgow market trader tried to get away with a green and gold stall called 'Herods'. The logo had a small 'by appointment' sign. Unfortunately it was by appointment to 'King Abdullah'. A disco on New Zealand's North Island also felt the wrath of m'learned friends. 'Wherever and whenever anyone tries to pass themselves off as Harrods, we will take action,' said Mr Cole.

Mr Jeffrey admitted: 'OK, the name gets them looking. But inside Herrods it's all good stuff. No rubbish.'