When Highland Titles purchased Keil Hill in 2007, with the intention of creating a nature reserve that would become a popular tourist attraction, we sought to create a valuable brand which would require our protection. We settled on the name “Glencoe Wood” as the name of the woodland north of the Salachan burn. Our supporters were encouraged to adopt the style of Laird of Glencoe Wood, or Laird of Glencoe for short and we trademarked this name to protect it from being used by our business rivals.
In investing time and money in registering our trademarks, we have acted more cautiously than most other businesses in the Glencoe area, such as Glencoe Mountain, Glencoe Activities and Discover Glencoe, who have failed to register their trademarks. But we are no different to several other business owners who have chosen to protect their “Glencoe” based branding. An example would be the Nevis Distillery, who own the Glencoe trademark in respect of their Glencoe malt whisky and the English clothing firm, Glenmuir Limited in respect of clothing sold under the “Glencoe” brand.
Over the last ten years we have invested heavily in the Glencoe area and created a popular tourist attraction which brings 10,000 visitors to the area every year and rising. Our visitors stay in local hotels and B&Bs, they drink in local pubs, shop in local shops, eat in local cafe’s and use other local facilities whilst here. Ultimately, like other local attractions, we bring money into the local economy which creates local jobs and supports other local businesses. We have investment plans but this of course depends upon us being able to protect our brand. Every business needs brand security which is the reason that the trademark office exists.
Which leads us to the 2015 registration of the name “Glencoe” by the National Trust for Scotland, Scotland’s largest conservation charity. With this “dog in the manger” trademark registration they intend to decide who does or does not get to use that word in their business branding. This appears to us to be disproportionate and unhelpful, particularly to the local region. Should Glencoe Mountain become “Rannoch Moor Mountain”, Glencoe Activities become “Ballachulish Activities” and Glencoe Wood have to be renamed “Salachan Burn Wood”? And what will our local marketing group, “Discover Glencoe” become?
We have not sought to disadvantage or threaten any business in the area and the same cannot unfortunately be said for the NTS, who appear not to like competition from a privately funded organisation. They have threatened our volunteers and threatened us. Now it appears that they do not like any organisation who dares to use “Glencoe” in their branding simply because the NTS are a major local landowner and they are not afraid to squander their members’ membership fees on Edinburgh lawyers. As Lord Lyon knows only too well, a legal letter scares most organisations into submission, and they only have out of date medieval laws to back up their threats. We eventually adopted the Arkell vs Pressdram response to successfully get Lord Lyon off our backs (it certainly cheered me up). We encourage Hillcrest to take a similar firm line with NTS.