Whilst Brazilian skater Coca Cola might have failed in the high profile trademark case she recently took out against a soft drinks manufacturer, one top English derby player is hoping for more success in her battle with big business. SAM SHANDIE reports.
There’s a strong chance that a recently launched – and controversial – ‘roller derby skate’ could be taken off the market by the end of today. Lawyers acting for the London Rollergirls and Team England skater Stefanie Mainey have issued a ‘cease and desist’ order against its manufacturer, Sidcup-based, self-described “global entrepreneur” Hogswell Bratwurst. The businessman launched the Stephmaney skate earlier this year. Whilst Mr Bratwurst refuses to state how many pairs – or skates, as this item can unusually be bought individually (“left foot cost more”) – have been sold, the Stephmaney has been heavily advertised in roller derby publications such as Inside Line, Back Block Major and the Tasmanian Derby Digest. Websites such as Double Derby News, UKDerby.com and Best Thai Brides have also carried banner ads for the skate.
The legal firm of Wilson, Wilson, Wilson & Stenchmouth have stated in a letter that they believe Hogswell to be “trading off the good name of Stefanie Mainey, a well known and highly respected figure amongst the roller derby community, both within the UK and on the global stage.” They point out the similarity of the skate’s ‘Stephmaney’ brand name to Ms Mainey’s own name, as well as highlighting the use of her famous “rilly” catchphrase in adverts, along with “several other factors that go beyond mere coincidence in their linkages to our client.” The legal firm point out that although Ms Mainey has sponsorship and promotional links with “Atom Wheels, Luigino Skates and several other established roller derby brands” she has “never met, been contacted by, nor entered into any agreement with Mr Bratwurst in regard to anything, let alone her name being associated with one of his products.”
Bratwurst has been given a deadline of 24 hours to cease all promotion and sales of the Stephmaney skate. UKDerby.com doorstepped the entrepreneur at his office below Krazy Meat Kebabs on Sidcup High Street. Hogswell claims the entire matter has simply been a terrible misunderstanding. “I not know this Stefanie Mainey person,” he tells us, “and have named nothing after him or her. The word ‘stephmaney’ in my language mean ‘skate very fast’. Is been used for thousand of years.” How then can Mr Bratwurst explain the image in the advertisements of a child (he confirms this to be his young daughter Marmita) who appears to be wearing Mainey’s number 13 on her sleeve, along with a crude approximation of the London Rollergirls’ pink and black Union flag logo? “Thirteen is Marmita lucky number,” he says, “and that is the flag of my country.”
When asked to confirm exactly what country it is he comes from, that uses the pink and black Union flag and the word ‘stephmaney’, Hogswell is somewhat evasive: “Is secret country. I cannot tell you where. You will invade it. I know of your Toby Blair.” Moving on, we ask the businessman about a separate case against the Stephmaney skates being brought by Trading Standards, who state: “On examining a Stephmaney roller derby skate, we found it to be nothing more than a slipper, one which appears to have been retrieved from a refuse tip, blu-tacked onto a similarly salvaged and rusted up 1960s strap-on skate chassis.” “No no no,” counters Mr Bratwurst, “is not rust. Is special roller derby coating, for extra fast when doing the turn. Now, I must go back inside. I have Super Noodle on hob, will be boiling over.” With that, he jumps into the driver’s seat of a parked Porsche and screeches off into the distance.
This isn’t the first time one of Hogswell’s roller derby products has caused controversy. The ‘SusieHotrad’ derby helmet was withdrawn from sale late last year, after a sustained legal challenge from solicitors acting for a New York based skater, along with claims from safety charities that it was simply a hollowed out watermelon. Meanwhile, a case involving what appears to be a bin bag full of rocks – billed as the ‘SutonImpack’ roller derby buttock pad – is still ongoing.
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