Sarah has been a designer of high street clothes for 15 years. Having become a mother and wanting to have more flexible working hours, she decided to set up her own online business from her home selling children’s pyjamas made of organic cotton with contemporary animal prints. She sourced the cotton from Bangladesh and found a small but reputable factory there to produce the pyjamas.
Setting up the business including the branding, labels and website, Sarah decided to trademark the name of the company, ‘Jammie Doodles’. However, she was subsequently surprised to learn that an objection had been made to her application by a well-known children’s shoe manufacturer. Sarah was horrified to hear this she had spent a significant amount of time and money in creating the business and stood to lose it all.
As Sarah was on a low income and had few savings she was unable to afford a lawyer but had heard about Aston Law Clinic, a legal clinic in the LawWorks network where students at Aston University law school, working under the supervision of a supervising solicitor, provide free legal advice on business issues to start-ups, small enterprises and charities. She was given legal advice by the clinic and provided with a letter setting out her position which she sent to the shoe manufacturer’s lawyers, although they still resisted her request to allow her to use the name ‘Jammie Doodles’. The clinic found Sarah a small firm of local solicitors who were prepared to act for her on a pro bono basis and, as a result of further negotiations, the shoe manufacturer relented, on the specific condition that Sarah agreed not to make bed socks. The trademark was approved and Sarah was able to carry on with the process of growing her business.
“Had they not helped me, I would have had to have thrown in the towel,” says Sarah, “I was terrified that I might end up with a huge legal bill and have to pay all of my costs and their legal costs too. I could never have managed to have come up with the right words to persuade them to change their mind. I’m really grateful to Aston Law Clinic for all of their advice and support.”