King’s Lynn takeaway boss reaches the end of the line in Underground legal row
The dream has turned into a nightmare for a Lynn takeaway owner, who has been threatened with legal action for an alleged copyright breach.
Frederico Celestino only opened his Underground business in Norfolk Street in the spring.
But his enterprise has now earned him the wrath of Transport for London (TfL) bosses, who have demanded that he destroy everything associated with it.
They say the shop’s name and branding, which shares the distinctive colour scheme of the famous London Underground roundel symbol, breaches their copyright and they won’t authorise its use.
But Mr Celestino, who estimates he has spent more than £35,000 to get the shop up and running, has spoken of his shock at the body’s stance.
He says the branding was intended as a homage to the network and claims TFL has been overly aggressive in its handling of the issue.
He said: “This is food. They are transport. It’s crazy. Everything I have worked for in my life is in this shop. Now I’ve lost everything.”
A letter from TfL, dated July 12, said it had become aware of the business after seeing a Lynn News article about its opening.
It said both the roundel symbol and the word “underground” are both registered trademarks and should not be used without TfL consent.
It sought the removal of all uses of both symbols, the destruction of all promotional material and an assurance there would be no further use, including as goodwill, by 5pm on Friday.
It added: “If in the event that you do not comply with the above requests, TfL reserves the right to take further action, which may include seeking damages in respect of your unauthorised use of its intellectual property.”
But Mr Celestino said he only received the letter last Monday, six days after the date shown on it, and the deadline it imposed was impossible.
He said: “I can fix it if they give me time, but I can’t do this in four days. I can’t.”
His friend Barry Smith, who works for web hosting company Lebatech is supporting Mr Celestino, along with Sew On and Sew Forth, a design and materials company based in Hunstanton.
But he said it was likely to be later this week before any new branding can be completed. “How you can trademark a word is beyond me,” he said.
It is not the first time that a small business owner has fallen foul of TfL’s tough stance. A Skipton pie shop owner faced similar action two years ago over his use of the roundel.
TfL has so far not responded to a request for comment.