Clark's Pies: Cardiff name row with Victoria Park Pie Company
- 24 October 2012
- From the section South East Wales
Two sides of a family of bakers have been involved in a dispute over a brand of pie which has become an institution in Cardiff.
Two bakeries are run by descendants of Mary Clark, who began baking Clark's Pies in 1913.
Problems started when the Canton shop rebranded as Victoria Park Pie Company but the Grangetown shop did not want the pies sold under another name.
To avoid legal action one part of the dynasty has now renamed its pies.
The pies have entered Cardiff folklore and the nickname "Clarksies" is often used to demonstrate the city's "Kairdiff" accent - complete with a long and hard "a".
The Canton premises was known as a Clark's Pie shop from 1931 until it changed its name last year.
However, the trademark is owned by the other side of the family in the Grangetown area of the city.
Family members described it as the first major dispute in 99 years of making the meat and vegetable pies which have become an institution in and around the city.
'Prevent legal action'
Cardiff Council Trading Standards officials sent a letter to the owners of the Canton bakery saying it should not use the registered mark "Clarks" to describe its products unless with the permission of the trade mark holder.
Two years ago there were plans to merge the businesses but the owner of the Canton bakery, Ceri Dutch-John, pulled out because she felt it was not in her interests.
Mrs Dutch-John, great-granddaughter of the founder, says she took the decision to rebrand in order to differentiate her side of the business from the other one, while still maintaining her connection with the family heritage.
"The decision wasn't taken lightly," she said.
"Our name may have changed to the Victoria Park Pie Company but our products have remained the same.
"This has been a very hard decision because legally we're in breach of trademark law and to prevent the risk of any further legal action being taken against us, we've made the difficult choice to relinquish trading under our family name.
The result is that the Canton shop is selling the same pie it has for around 80 years but it cannot refer to it by the name which it is known, and neither should the businesses it supplies.
The letter to Mrs Dutch-John from trading standards in July says: "I have received further complaints relating to your continuing use of the trademark 'Clark's Pie' either verbally or written.
'Not an adjudicator'
"As discussed during my visit I saw no issue with you referring to your 'heritage' as a family member on your website; however I explained that the unauthorised use of a registered trademark in selling your product may constitute a criminal offence."
The letter goes on to say that the trading standards department cannot act as an adjudicator between the two sides on civil issues and suggests where necessary seeking legal advice.
"All it has done is cause confusion for the customers," said Fred Rosoman, the great, great grandson of Mary Clark and the bakery supervisor at Grangetown.
"We've had a lot of people say they don't know what they're buying any more," he said.
"What deeply saddens us is that we feel Clark's Pie was always a community pie, it always brought communities together.
"It's part of the heritage of Cardiff and to split apart Cardiff like this is a shame."