A small UK business founded by an Australian entrepreneur is rallying the SME community against drinks firm Monster Energy via Twitter in a legal stoush over the word “rehab”.
Rehab London, founded in 2000 by Australian entrepreneur Lisa Hilton, is a men’s grooming range.
The business could lose the right to use its name because major energy drink brand Monster Energy, which recently launched a new drink dubbed “Rehab the Monster”, has launched a trademark action against it.
Rehab London has taken to Twitter to raise awareness of the issue, via the hashtag #FighttheMonster. Thousands of Tweets from the UK small business community have used the hashtag, supporting Rehab London’s position.
One tweet describes Monster Energy’s accusations as “moronic trademark bullying”, while another suggests the company should “pick on someone your own size”. By 4pm UK time yesterday, @rehablondon and #FighttheMonster were trending on Twitter in the UK.
In an email to StartupSmart, Hilton says: “Twitter and Facebook yesterday were incredible truly beyond my expectations of using this media. I feel as the Monster customer is very much of the social media generation this definitely damaged them. Also there are other “Monsters” involved.”
“Barclays Wealth here in London is Monsters third biggest shareholder. A British bank is a major shareholder in an American Corporation who is bullying a small British business – not cool.”
Hilton adds that Monster are “pressing forward” with their trademark claim and Rehab London was ready to engage lawyers unless The Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market, the governing body for European trademark, throws out the case.
In an open letter to the Monster Energy Company, Hilton said she contacted the company’s lawyers to suggest a conference call in order to discuss the issue.
“It seems it is not your policy to discuss any matters directly with the trademark applicant,” Hilton wrote.
“I am now writing to outline why I feel the action taken by Monster against our trademark Rehab London, is unnecessary.”
According to Hilton, Rehab London was granted a “category three” trademark in 2007 and 2011. Category three refers to grooming and cosmetics, Hilton said.
“We have added to this classes 25 and 35 covering clothing, barbers shop and salons.”
“As we are a men’s grooming brand, none of our categories are the same as those Monster Rehab Energy Drinks are registered in being 5, 30 and 32 – all drink categories.”
Hilton said this alone should prove Rehab London does not infringe on any of Monster Energy’s intellectual property.
“Due to this, I ask you to remove the application to OHIM (Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market) opposing my trademark Rehab London,” Hilton wrote.
“We are a small business… Unlike Monster Drinks, we don’t have the funds to hire trademark lawyers whose bills often run into the thousands for dealing with these issues.”
The news comes just one day after StartupSmart spoke to a Sydney-based niche fashion retailer that used social media to highlight plagiarism committed by a larger competitor.
Warwick Levy, founder of T-shirt retailer Lonely Kids Club, accused urban fashion brand JXcess of copying one of his designs before selling it exclusively to major fashion chain Glue.
Levy told StartupSmart the matter may never have been brought to light without the aid of social media, which, he said, played a crucial role.
“We do live in an age where people’s voices do get heard. If someone is doing something really unethical, you can post something on their wall, which people will see and get behind,” he said.