A small business on the Isle of Wight is facing legal action from Dan Aykroyd (of Ghostbusters fame) after a proposed business deal went awry.
Bobby and Rosie Powers, who make Bloody Hell Hot Sauce, have been told to stop trading after Mr Powers reached out to Mr Aykroyd company, Crystal Head Vodka, to propose a collaboration.
The dispute came about because both companies sell their products in skull shaped bottles.
But while Mr Powers thought this was the perfect opportunity to work together selling bloody marys, Crystal Head Vodka is claiming the designs are too similar and Bloody Hell Hot Sauce is committing trademark infringement.
Mr and Mrs Powers founded their company three years ago as a hobby. Their hot sauce is based on Bobby’s grandmother’s recipe and sells for £12 a bottle. Crystal Head Vodka costs up to £275 a bottle and is filtered through diamonds.
Michael Coyle, the Powers’ solicitor, said the hot sauce and vodka were clearly distinct products and called the lawsuit “a battle of David and Goliath proportions."
In the letter the Powers received, they were told they had to destroy all their stock.
“I can't believe this big company is trying to shut down a small family business on the Isle of Wight,” said Bobby. “They don't just want us to stop selling our sauce, they want us to destroy absolutely everything.”
“When I read the letter, I was physically sick. So many products are sold in skull bottles, and ours has nothing to do with their market.”
But they wouldn’t just have to destroy their current stock in order to comply with Aykroyd’s wishes. The company has just bought 10,000 skull shaped bottles, enough to last more than two years.
Bob Seely, the MP for the Isle of Wight, has said he will take the Powers’ case to the UK export minister and the US Embassy.
“We have so much really good local, artisan produce on the Island now. It's an important part of our future, and it's appalling that this big company is seeking to bully an Island firm,” he said.
Seely also compared the battle to David and Goliath, but added “Goliath doesn't always win.”
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