NTS accused of bullying in row over Glencoe trademark
The National Trust for Scotland has been accused of bullying a small Aberdeenshire clothing business in a trademark dispute.
Lawyers for the charity wrote to Aboyne-based Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing demanding they stop selling their popular Glencoe jacket.
They said the NTS owned Glencoe and held the trademark for the name.
But business owner Dave Shand has vowed to continue selling the jacket the firm has manufactured for 30 years.
He said the lawyers' letter was "bullying and threatening" and after he shared it on social media, the NTS conceded that it may have been "too harsh in tone".
A charity spokesman said they would be happy to speak to the business to find a "mutually agreeable solution".
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The letter demanded the business stop selling goods with the name Glencoe from their website, and refrain from using the word in future products or packaging.
It threatened legal action if the firm did not comply with their demands within a week.
"I was shocked that they could trademark the name of a place and shocked at their attitude," Mr Shand told BBC Scotland online.
"A polite letter should have been their first step I think, explaining the situation and asking for a dialogue," he added.
"The irking thing is I am a NTS supporter- I was a member until about two years ago," he said.
Mr Shand, a keen outdoor enthusiast, said he took over the clothing business from its previous owners in 2003.
From their workshop in Aboyne, four employees manufacture and supply outdoor clothing to more than 25 countries.
It has long been the firm's policy to name their jackets after some of their favourite places in Scotland.
Now he is worried that the row could affect the future of products like their Cuillin jacket, their Braemar smock, or their Kintail shirt.
He said he plans to consult a lawyer over the issue on Monday and has had crowdfunding offers to help pay their fees.
A spokesman for The National Trust for Scotland said the charity has registered trademarks for some of its properties "as a defensive measure". It wanted to prevent third parties legally registering trademarks for properties owned by the NTS.
He said the charity has made sure that established and new businesses trading locally to their properties can continue trading "without interruption or cost".
But they have contacted a number of companies using trademarked names which are not local, including some businesses based in France and England.
He said: "Our only desire is to protect the properties in our care and stop them being exploited in ways which do not accord with our charitable purposes."
He added: "In retrospect, although the letter sent to Hilltreck was a standard one, it may have been in the circumstances of this particular company too harsh in tone.
"Our letter to Hilltreck was intended to open up negotiation to establish if the company had legal prior trading rights and clearly the wording and tone did not convey this. We would be happy to enter into a dialogue with them with the aim of finding a mutually agreeable solution."