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Warner Bros company hit out at Dublin start-up 'like a ton of bricks' over Scooby brand name

ScoobyBox has had to change its brand name to BusterBox after trademark issues with a Warner Bros company.

Image: BusterBox

DUBLIN START-UP ScoobyBox owners have spoken of the “devastation” of having to change its brand name after being hit with a legal warning from a company owned by US-based entertainment firm Warner Bros.

The start-up, owned by Gary Redmond, Liam Brennan and Paul Carrick, offers a monthly subscription service to people where they can sign up to receive monthly boxes of toys and treats for dogs. The company appeared on RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den in April 2017.

On 27 July 2017, the dog product business received a letter from a solicitor on behalf of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc threatening to legally oppose its use of the ScoobyBox name on the grounds of trademark issues with the Scooby-Doo brand.

Hanna-Barbera Productions is a subsidiary of Warner Bros.

The production company owns the trademarks Scooby, Scooby-Doo and Scooby Snacks. These trademarks are listed in the Irish Trade Mark Register and the EU Trade Mark Register, according to the solicitor.

In the letter, the solicitor outlined that its client was “concerned by the existence” of the start-up’s application for trademark status on the ScoobyBox name.

“The Mark applied for ScoobyBox includes the term Scooby as its distinguishing and dominant element. The end term Box is merely descriptive of the product within which you may deliver dog products. Thus, the Mark applied for is highly similar to our client’s earlier trademarks as registered,” the letter said.

Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries Photocall - London The Scooby Doo live musical in London Source: EMPICS Entertainment via PA Images

‘We didn’t mean to infringe’

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Redmond explained that the trio chose the name ScoobyBox after one of the co-founder’s grandfather’s dog named Scooby.

“It had nothing to do with the Scooby-Doo character. He grew up with the dog and the company was named after the dog’s memory,” Redmond said.

When the start-up initially set out to choose a brand name, Redmond said they looked at the list of registered trademarks under Ireland’s Patent Office. He said they found no listing of the Scooby trademark.

However, once the company received the solicitor letter they came to the realisation that Scooby was, in fact, a listed trademark in the EU.

“We didn’t mean to infringe, but we did,” Redmond said.

“They came down on us like a ton of bricks,” he said.

ScoobyBox made efforts for a number of months to come to a resolution with Hanna-Barbera Productions.

However, having taken extensive legal advice, the ScoobyBox team realised that the challenge to retain their right to use the Scooby name would be too expensive for them, and they said they were left with no option but to change the company name.

The ScoobyBox team sent Hanna-Barbera Productions a letter informing it that they would cease use of the word Scooby in its brand name by 20 February. The start-up has been rebranded as BusterBox.

“We had to immediately cancel our domain and our email address,” Redmond said.

“It’s going to cost us about €5,000 to change over. We had to get new artwork and a new domain, which was expensive because it’s a premium domain,” he said.

It was just devastating after building our brand up and getting our name out there on television. All we can do is try to keep positive.

Speaking of the reception the company has received after it announced its name change, Redmond said: “The subscribers are keeping positive and are being very supportive. They’ve been great.”

Venturing overseas

Over the past number of months, the Irish start-up has begun to spread its business into the UK market.

Redmond said that while the company’s brand name has posed a number of difficulties over the past year, it will not deter the team from progressing its expansion overseas.

“It’s all still a go but it’s a disappointment at the start of the year when we’re trying to expand our brand overseas. It’s just a set-back but we’ll get there,” Redmond said.

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