Why intellectual property rights protect much more than a name

Rik Hellewell addresses delegates at the Ovenu AGM.

By Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of oven cleaning franchise, Ovenu

One of the most important things when it comes to setting up a business, apart from a robust plan, is its name.

An effective brand creates a positive perception and contributes to its success. Getting it right is crucial, which is why I’m surprised too many fail to conduct due diligence.

There are those either unaware of the possible pitfalls of choosing a name, or who are simply prepared to ride roughshod over intellectual property rights and take a chance they will not get caught out.

Our solicitors recently contacted a start-up with a similar name to Ovenu, which also provided an oven valeting service.

It was pointed out that they were in breach of Ovenu’s intellectual property on two counts – its name and trading style. The managing director accepted the transgression and within days replied to say the business had closed and its website and social media wiped.

To be clear Ovenu only asked that it come up with an alternative name that did not infringe on our intellectual property. And before people grumble about overbearing tactics, it’s my responsibility to protect the livelihoods of our 120 plus franchisees across the UK that depend upon the Ovenu brand. In fact, Ovenu is contractually obliged to look after its stakeholders.

There are many oven cleaning firms up and down the country and I have no interest in shutting them down. Having founded this franchise back in 1994, I’m focused on Ovenu, which is a respected and recognised brand with a reputation for a quality service.

Companies House register
Those looking to compete with an established brand ought at least to research the Companies House register. It’s completely free and a few minutes of online browsing will easily avoid such issues, which let’s face it, can turn out to be extremely costly if a start-up suddenly must change its branding.

The lesson is that anyone looking to ‘piggyback’ off a successful business, or who randomly produces a similar name or style without at least conducting a cursory check, does so at their own significant risk.

All businesses should appreciate their intellectual property is vital to protect not just a name or idea, but their long-term viability.

To conduct a free search of company names, visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house

About Ovenu
Ovenu is a leading UK and international domestic oven cleaning and valeting specialist. All cleaning products used by Ovenu are environmentally friendly, bio-degradable and conform to the latest government REACH regulations. Ovenu’s Carbon Remover is also approved by the Vitreous Enamel Association.

The Ovenu valeting process involves dismantling key components of an oven and placing them into design-registered equipment, which uses non-caustic, non-toxic and biodegradable products to clean the oven parts. Ovenu is a full member of the Approved Franchise Association.