A young Wellington couple who fell victim to "corporate bullying" in a trademark stoush with Coca Cola have been spared the $9000 cost of rebranding their business thanks to local companies and a pro-bono lawyer.
Claire Rientjes, 21, and Egemen Yeter, 25, have finally sorted a new name for their cafe and food business, previously known as Innocent Foods, after they were threatened with legal action by the drinks giant.
They sold cold-pressed juices, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free foods, and "all sorts of yummy, delicious, innocent things".
The couple were running their business for at least a year and opened a cafe under the name about six months ago, but were shocked recently to receive a letter informing them they were breaching a Coca-Cola trademark.
The company owns a line of cold drinks under the name Innocent, and recently secured the trademark for the word in about 40 different categories in the hospitality industry, Rientjes said.
The prospect of changing the name of their cafe and food brand was daunting for the couple, but thanks to help from businesses and an IP lawyer acting pro bono, they are now ready to launch the new name.
The couple have chosen "No Strings", from the phrase "no strings attached".
"It comes from the saying 'no strings attached' because our food contains no strings, the strings being ingredients like sugar, gluten, dairy etc," Rientjes said.
"We had an IP lawyer approach us to do pro-bono work and do our checks, so we sent lists of names to him which included names like 'STARK', 'Inner Sense' and 'IF' but all of the other options were under some kind of trademark application.
"We started doing designs for our new branding for 'No Strings' and loved it more and more the further into the process we got."
Rientjes and Yeter first described Coca Cola's approach as "corporate bullying", but said the company had become "very co-operative" as soon as the rebranding was underway.
"They extended the timeframe we agreed on for our rebranding several times, meaning we did not have to rush the process and we got the result we were happy with."
The couple are in the process of reserving the new name and have done multiple checks to make sure nobody else holds it in any categories.
The new name counted as a "fresh start" for the small business, and the couple have taken the opportunity to add some "awesome new features" such as juice cleanses, outsourcing raw desserts, and delivering meals for offices in the CBD.
They officially reopen on January 10 and will be holding a launch party in their third week to thank the businesses who have helped them.
The cost of rebranding and replacing all their signage, merchandise and labels would have been about $8000-9000, but the couple have not had to pay any of it because of the generosity of the businesses and the lawyer.
Website design company Nettl helped with design, printing, and the website, Print Ninja provided them with new work uniforms, Abbey Signs handled the new outdoor signage, vinyl cuts, and covering up of old branding, and Attack Animation consulted on new brand designs.
NZME, which publishes the New Zealand Herald, organised the Nettl activity and has committed $5000 worth of on air promotion to the business.