x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Same name, but two very different companies

The Entertainer, a British toy shop, opened a branch in the Al Ghurair Centre in December last year. It shares the same name as Dubai-based voucher company The Entertainer, which sells books filled with buy one get one free offers.

The Entertainer voucher books on sale at Madinat Jumeirah. Sarah Dea / The National
The Entertainer voucher books on sale at Madinat Jumeirah. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // What do a 30-year-old British toy-store chain and a UAE discount-voucher firm have in common?

Not a lot you might think, but when they share strikingly similar logos, they run the risk of confusing consumers and of potentially raising legal issues.

The Entertainer toy shop opened a branch at the Al Ghurair Centre in Dubai in December last year.

It has the same name as the Dubai voucher company The Entertainer, which sells books filled with buy-one-get-one-free offers.

By coincidence, both have similarly coloured logos that feature a smiling face. Customers and branding experts believe there is a potential for confusion.

Sally Cobb, from the UK, who was shopping in Al Ghurair Centre on Thursday, said she had not heard of the toy shop. “I thought it was the voucher company starting to sell toys,” she said. “At first glance the logos do look similar.”

The British firm signed a 45-store franchise agreement with Al Owais Enterprises in Dubai in September last year. In May, it opened shops in Abu Dhabi’s Dalma Mall and Deerfields Mall, and is expected to open another in Dubai’s Arabian Centre.

Craig Falconer, creative director at branding firm North 55, said it would have been too much to ask the company to change its branding to differentiate itself from the voucher publisher.

“They might have hundreds of stores, a long history and quite a strong brand identity,” he said.

But there was a possibility for the two to be mistaken for each other, even though the nature of their business was different, he added.

“It can have a positive impact and a negative,” he said. “They could, by coincidence, complement each other and benefit from each other’s brand equity. However, there’s an equal danger that they would create confusion in the market.”

A spokesman for the voucher firm stressed that the two companies were separate entities.

“While our respective businesses do have the same name we have very distinct and different focuses,” he said. “Accordingly, the ownership of both companies are in open discussions to ensure there are no issues on either side in the markets in which we both have operations.”

Al Owais Enterprises could not be reached, and a spokesman for the toy shop chain declined to comment on the specific arrangements.

Dino Wilkinson, a partner at law firm Norton Rose Middle East, said it was common when two companies shared the same name but had little crossover in terms of the nature of their business to adopt a policy of mutual coexistence.

“They might be in discussion over establishing a coexistence agreement,” he said. “It happens a lot that companies do reach certain settlements.”

Mark Hill, director of Rights Lawyers in Dubai, said that in cases where a coexistence agreement was reached, there were still obligations on both parties.

“You need to take steps, with both parties, to ensure that you would minimise any potential confusion,” he said.

Last year, social-networking site Facebook said it was considering legal action against Facelook, a hair salon in Dubai’s Discovery Gardens.

In 2012, UK clothes retailer Primark opened a legal case against a Bur Dubai retailer that had registered the same name with the Dubai Department of Economic Development.

mcroucher@thenational.ae