Wigan firm forced to pay out thousands in legal row over name

It is a fourth generation family business
It is a fourth generation family business

A Wigan business is having to shell out thousands of pounds on rebranding after becoming embroiled in a nightmare legal ordeal over its name.

Mathew Winter, director of Hindley-based Just Tarmac, was stunned to receive out of the blue a legal letter from the national construction giant Tarmac stating that its moniker was a trademark breach.

The letter stated the fourth-generation family business had to either change its name and everything containing the word or face action in the courts.

Having concluded there was no chance of his company winning the case, Mathew has now embarked on the massive task of totally reworking his business’s identity.

He spoke about the toll the months of legal wrangling have taken, during which he says he came very close to shutting the business down which would have cost his five employees their jobs.

He also said he hoped that by going public about the horror experience other Wigan business owners could avoid similar problems.

Mathew, 29, said: “We didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. It’s basically impossible to contest so we’re in the middle of doing the name change.

“It has been a very stressful time. I’ve been worrying if we will have to shut down because I didn’t know how much it would take to resolve the problem.

“Some mornings I woke up and received an email or something in the post that just made me want to close up the business and walk away, but that would have been our lads’ five families not provided for.

“It’s going to cost us thousands. I had to send 40,000 flyers back I’ve had printed and that’s £1,500.

“We’ve got to get all new workwear as they’ve got the logo on them, the six vehicles need their writing changing, bank accounts need changing, email addresses need updating. It’s business cards, invoices, everything. A new website has cost me £3,000.

“It’s not just changing a logo or a name, it’s basically redesigning the whole front of the company.

“We’ve got to try to look forward positively. Hopefully we can get the borough community around us. I would urge other businesses to do a full check on their names.”

The row revolves around the fact that ‘Tarmac’ is a trademarked brand as the company invented the modern road surface. Generic names for this include asphalt, tarmacadam or macadam.

Mr Winter has embarked on a large expansion of the firm since taking the reins, which he believes is why the company has come to Tarmac’s attention now.

Having previously relied on word-of-mouth, Mr Winter has increased its online and social media profile while opening offices in Hindley and Manchester as well as operating from a Goose Green storage yard.

The building materials company said it had no malicious intentions towards Mr Winter or his firm.

A spokesperson for Tarmac said: “Our brand name is over 100 years old, and, like any business, we must protect its use.

“As well as being our company name, Tarmac is our overarching trademarked brand for all the goods and services we offer, including asphalt.

“We wrote to Mr Winter to resolve matters amicably, and we are in no way trying to affect the Just Tarmac business.”