Friday, 13 June 2008

Intellectual Property Office-How they aided a crook.

From the start of my Cobra Replica business back in April 1985 it rapidly grew and by end of 1989 I was turning over £900,000 and that was in those days quite a good amount. I also employed around 25 people. The company had rapidly grown to be the top or at least the second largest Cobra Replica maker in the UK. I had decided even before 1985 that if I ever got to building such a car I would call it by the name of 'VIPER' and so that was the TRADE MARK I used and OWNED as no one else was using it in the UK. I owned it by virtue of COMMON LAW which state the first to use a name owns it, providing of course they can prove that, which of course I always could.
In February I took on two brothers to act as LONDON AGENTS. Named Bob & Martin Busbridge, they actually did quite a good job and right up to April 1991 I'd had no real complaints about them. Starting in 1990 a small recession started and kit sales and full car sales of the VIPER started to very rapidly slow down. So as my Swiss agent wanted me to go there to build a race car Viper, he'd sold, I did just that. Packed in my now small UK workshop and moved all my tools to Winterthur. I gave instructions to the Busbridges on how to continue selling the kits in my absense which should last no more than 6 months max.
By now my chassis and fibreglass bodies were being by subcontractors rather than myself and they could get both those items directly from the subcontractors and until my return. Whilst I was away they said they'd sold no kits at all which somehow I did not believe and in late 1991 I heard that they were up to no good. So I made an unannounced visist to the UK and their workshop. They were not in but I saw a worker of theirs, a Trevor Sangster-Jones working on what appeared to be a copy of my chassis. He told me that they were cheating me while I'd been away by getting chassis's and bodies direct off my subcontractors and not telling me AND they got him to copy my chassis so they could make it themselves.
IN OTHER WORDS THEY WERE IN THE  PROCESS of ripping me off, of my whole Cobra business and not only that they were using my Trade Mark VIPER to attach to their copy of my car. They had thought that I would stay in Europe long enough to do this.. I imediatley took away from the two subcontractors the chassis jigs and body moulds and put them into storage. The Busbridges completed their copy of my chassis and went on to also copy my body. I had to take legal action now to stop all this.
Later on I found from Sangster-Jones that one of the overwhelming reasons why they were so intent on all they had done so far, was that they had found out that Chrysler had applied to register the Trademark VIPER in January 1990. Their plan was to hoodwink Chrysler into thinking that they owned the trademark by stating they had been selling Viper kits since 1988, which was a lie of course, and that I had run off to Switzerland abandoning the Mark as I no longer wanted it so they took it over. They would then say that they would of course be happy to sell it to Chrysler for around a £million. What CRIMINALS!!

So my next call was to a Patent Agents in London called Kings. I told him the story and paid him to start the ball rolling by writing to the Busbridges to warn them of legal action. Also to warn Chrysler. He quickly advised me that I should also apply to register the mark on the grounds of prior usage dating back to January 1986. I paid him to do that but for some unknown reason he did not do it and kept telling me that it was not urgent I do it straight away. This was to prove disastrous later on as you will see, and I get really annoyed every time I think of his incompetence at not doing it that January1991. It cost me much in money and strain and he would later refuse to answer as to why he had fallen down on this pivotal point.

I went back to Germany and immediately sent the Busbridges a letter by fax in which I told them I now knew what they were upto and that I was going to sue them for breach of copyright over the copying of my Jaguar chassis, and take it up with Chrysler to warn them of the true situation over who owned the Mark and that they were just a bunch of liars. Of course they thought they were so clever and could ignore what I had said and do nothing. They did acknowledge receipt and noted what I had said. So I knew it was battle stations, but short of sending a crew down to London to sort them out what could I do to stop them selling copies of my products AND using my Trade Mark so as to confuse tthe public that they were buying genuine Viper/Cobras? I just had to wait and see what happened over the forthcoming months.
Of course they had no idea that I had never planned to stay in Europe and that I would shortly be back to harass them at close quarters. Also to get back into making my own kits for retail, to
stop them from taking over my market completely.
From hereon in I was to find out just what it was like to try and protect your intellectual property in the UK, and how I would find just how corrupt our government departments are and just how useless they all are. Up to now in my life, I had been quite lucky in not having to have much contact with British bureaucracy apart from the taxman, and the VAT man. I had found the taxman totally incompetent but had seen them off. My life from now on was going to be blighted by the bastards

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