One of the newest bars in Leeds city centre is having to re-brand after it says it was hit with a legal claim by a venue with the same name.
The Vanguard name was trademarked by another Vanguard bar in Birmingham at the same time as the Leeds Vanguard, independently owned by a local family, opened its doors in January.
After weeks of legal correspondence, the Leeds Vanguard, on Duncan Street, claims it was told to pay £6,000 per year to continue using the name - or change it.
And now the bar, owned by brothers Jonathan and Alexander Neil and cousin Matthew Sanderson - who also own Roland's and The Domino Club - is holding a competition for customers to suggest new names as they refuse to pay up.
It is however, going to cost them in the region of £6,000 to re-brand the bar with costs including having to changing the website to registering a new business name and new signage.
Owner Jonathan Neil said they had come up with Vanguard months before the opening after a brainstorm of words and liked the connotation that it meant to ‘lead from the front’, as it fitted in with the bar’s concept.
He added: “On the opening night, the venue got in touch with a member of staff saying we had the same name. We said sorry we did not know and thought that was that.
“We did not hear back until the bar owner said he had trade-marked the name and if we don’t re-name he would get a solicitor. It took us by surprise and we got in touch with our solicitor who said there was little we could do about it.
“We have decided to re-name ourselves and to do a competition with the people of Leeds to see what they think is a good name.”
Win free coffee and £100 brunch tab
The competition ends next Wednesday and the winner will get free coffee for life and a £100 weekend brunch tab. Runner up suggestions will have the honour of being made into signature cocktails.
Mr Neil added: “We think it will cost around £6,000 to rename. It is a pain but that is the position we find ourselves in. If it was TGI Friday or Brewdog I could understand it as they have a national profile but this is an independent bar in another city.
“We did some googling after this and looked at other independents and there is a Jake’s Bar in Edinburgh and a Maven in Plymouth. Most independents have the same names in other cities and how are there hundreds of George and Dragon or Red Lion pubs?”
He added that the most common two suggestions so far have been ‘The Trademark’ and ‘Cease and Desist’, which is the name for a document sent to an individual or business to stop purportedly illegal activity.
What The Vanguard in Birmingham had to say
Samuel Bolton, managing director of The Vanguard, Birmingham said he had trademarked The Vanguard with a view to expanding his business in the future with more sites in more cities.
:He said: “We had already been looking at the trademark and the application went through at the same time as they opened.
“For us it is about protecting our future and assets as early as possible and so there is as little monetary loss on both sides. We have only been open a year but we are looking at a second sites and cities, so this is where we have started but not where we are finishing.
“We want to support them and when they announce the new name, we will push them on social media. I wish them all the best and what they have done looks fantastic.”