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Council's £200,000 trademark big squeeze

PUBLISHED: 12:01 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning CITY Hall bosses are being threatened with a £200,000 law suit by a national energy company for using the word juice . Westminster Council has come under fire from Npower for naming its recharging points for hybrid and electric cars juic

Sanchez Manning

CITY Hall bosses are being threatened with a £200,000 law suit by a national energy company for using the word "juice".

Westminster Council has come under fire from Npower for naming its recharging points for hybrid and electric cars "juice points".

The company - which provides energy and sponsorship for Lord's cricket ground - has called its green energy packages "Npower juice" and is now accusing the council of infringing their trademark.

But Westminster has condemned the firm's "bullying tactics" and written a letter asking them to drop the legal case, which would cost taxpayers thousands to battle.

Environment and transport boss Cllr Danny Chalkley said: "We believe Npower's actions fly in the face of popular opinion and show they are out of step with the public mood.

"Big corporate organisations using their money and power to throw their weight around like this do not go down well in the current climate."

The juice points were first introduced in London in December 2006, while Npower started offering its juice packages in 2001.

They were first installed in Covent Garden and since then they have sprung up in Maida Vale, Marylebone and Victoria.

Motorists with electric or hybrid cars, vans or scooters can use the points to recharge their batteries.

The scheme has been so successful that London Mayor Boris Johnson has replicated it in other boroughs and wants to extend it further in Westminster.

Cllr Chalkley said: "The Mayor has been so impressed with them that he has rolled them out across other boroughs and has pledged to double the number across the capital by 2010.

"The government has also supported the wider use of electric and hybrid cars to help combat climate change."

But Npower is standing by the action it has taken against Westminster.

It said: "We're also surprised as they could have avoided any rebranding by carrying out simple and standard trademark checks before they implemented their programme.

"Greenpeace helped us to pioneer Npower juice back in 2001.

"It has grown to become such a market leading iconic brand that we feel there is a very real prospect of confusion together with a reduction in the impact of the brand.

"We have spent many weeks attempting to resolve the issue with the council and we are more than happy to assist them in developing a suitable alternative name."

The council has now pledged to defend its "juice points" and is planning to take the matter up with the government and the London Mayor.

Cllr Chalkley added: "There is still time for common sense to prevail and I hope Npower will reconsider their position as we would value their support.


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