‘Jungle’ turf war

The owner of Jungle Foodie was forced to change the name of his deli.

An Observatory business owner has been forced to fork out thousands of rand to change the name of his cafe, after Tiger Brands threatened to take legal action against him.

Gerald Veldman, owner of the newly established Jungle Foodie, found himself in a predicament late last year, when he got a call from a Tiger Brands lawyer, instructing him to change the name of his business, as the company had trademarked the word “jungle”.

A letter addressed to Mr Veldmam, by Spoor and Fisher attorneys on behalf of Tiger Brands, demanded that he immediately cease all use of the Jungle Foodie trademark including on all social media platforms, websites and marketing; change the name of his company; deliver all printed material to Tiger Brands for destruction; never attempt to register or make any unauthorised use of the name or trademark and remove all signage.

This as Tiger Brands felt their customers could be misled by the use of this word.

The letter stated that Tiger Brands had spent considerable time, effort and money in promoting its jungle trademarks.

“Our client considers its jungle trademarks to be well-known to the extent that there is an association of the jungle trademark with its goods, services and business activities in South Africa and internationally. As a result, our client has acquired a substantial reputation and goodwill in its trademarks and therefore also has extensive common law rights in its jungle trademarks,” the letter read.

It also said Tiger Brands’s trademark registration entitled it to prevent the unauthorised use of a name or mark by any other person in the course of trade, which was identical or similar to its jungle trademarks.

Mr Veldman now fears his six-month-old business could fold, as he is now being forced to change his name, logos, menus and business accounts, while still trying to repay his original loan.

The cafe sells light lunches, beverages, and everyday essentials.

After working in the hospitality industry for 20 years, Mr Veldman decided to take the chance and open his own business.

He said the business was slowly starting to pick up, with support from local businesses, but he was worried about the future of the business for him and his staff.

“I simply do not have the extra money to change all my branding, the name and everything else associated with the businesses, but I do not have a choice,” he said.

Mr Veldman said he could not afford to enter into a legal battle with a corporate giant and so decided to not fight it, but simply change the name of the business.

He is now busy re-registering his business under Fork In Fresh Foodbar.

“I can’t afford to go up against a corporate giant,” he said.

Mr Veldman questioned why he had been allowed to register the original name of the business with no issues, and he said he felt as though he was being “bullied”.

“I am a small business owner, simply trying to make a living,” he said.

Tiger Brands did not respond to questions by the time of going to print.