A LYTHAM business owner who is facing a £50,000 rebranding bill after locking legal horns with a Jet set ompany has accused them of “corporate bullying”.
Pete Landon, who owns Easy Exercise Centres on South Westby Street, has been forced to change the name of his company by EasyGroup, the company behind EasyJet.
Mr Landon was told his branding – despite being pink and purple instead of the company’s distinctive orange, white and black – could confuse to the public into believing the brands are connected.
EasyGroup has bought the rights to use the prefix – easy – in one thousand brand names in recent years.
It therefore made its objections known when Mr Landon attempted to register his company name.
And despite a barrister telling him the case is likely to win if he took the battle to High Court – Mr Landon has decided not to take the risk.
But today he blasted EasyGroup which is headed by Greek billionaire Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (inset).
He said: “This is pure pettiness, I am furious and disgusted with EasyGroup, it’s nothing more than corporate bullying.
“There is no way anybody could confuse our small, specialised gyms with any connected to them. We are tucked away with branches in Lytham and Cheshire, we are not a massive company on Oxford Street in London.
“It is hard enough for small businesses to survive, I simply can’t risk taking on a company like this.”
Mr Landon has already forked out £12,000 in legal fees since he received the first solicitor’s letter from the company in December 2010.
He has been quoted £50,000 as the cost for contesting his name but fears if he were to lose, the massive legal costs from the other side could force his business under.
Easy Exercise centres started life three years ago and is aimed purely at women in their 50s.
The gyms feature motorised machines to make exercise easy – hence the name – and feature a distinctive pink and purple branding. Easy Gyms is a relatively new venture for EasyGroup. They bought the rights to the name in 2002 but registered it again in 2010 when the company continued to expand.
Renaming Easy Exercise group to Friendly Gyms means altering promotional material, advertising and company logos and has left a sour taste in Mr Landon’s mouth.
He added: “I am furious to think someone can buy the rights to a whole word, the Intellectual Property office should never have allowed it.
“I would much rather spend this money updating my gyms and buying new equipment, it is such a waste.
“Who knows what the knock on effects will be but I certainly won’t be flying with EasyJet at any time in the future.”
A spokesman for EasyGroup chairman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou said: “The EasyGroup takes its rights and responsibilities for the ‘easy’ name very seriously.
“We will protect our business partners who have made a legitimate financial investment in the brand as part of their commercial strategy.
“It is simply unacceptable and unfair for others to use it as they please – free, gratis and for nothing.
“The ‘easy’ name is synonymous with quality, value for money services and we also have a duty to protect the public from its unauthorised use.”