LONDON SOUND - THE NAME
Do you like the name "London Sound"? I do, which is why I registered the name in 1969. I have to admit to being surprised at the time to find no one else had thought to register the name before me and to being very pleased!
The name London Sound is my established Trade Mark, registered Business Name, and Copyright is claimed.
The following notes are mainly addressed to those who want to use the name London Sound without my permission, but may be of interest to others - especially the brief life history of Mike Solomons, the founder of London Sound.
I was told about this recent user mid December 2011 and have asked them to stop using the name. I'm sure they will, as continuing to use my name is likely to prove a costly mistake. In addition, it can hardly aid their image of credibility or integrity!
It will be interesting to see how long it will take.
Three years on and Mr I M Rawes who calls his venture The London Sound Survey has not only refused to think up another name or take out an inexpensive licence, (first year's Licence Fee £180 - intended to be easily affordable), he seems very angry with me for suggesting that after 3 years he really should pay up for a licence or change to his own unique name. Ian Rawes is quite determined that he is entitled to use the name despite it having been registered by me so very many years ago. I have contacted Google and the IPO with which he claims to have registered the name so unfortunately it seems he will be stopped the hard way. The IPO, (part of the Patent Office), tells me that he did not disclose to them that he knew of my Trade Mark when he applied and unfortunately they accepted the application as for administrative reasons they seem to have mislaid earlier papers concerning my rights to my Trade Mark, London Sound. Quite a shambles!
However, as it is documented that Mr Rawes and the IPO both knew that London Sound is my Trade Mark when Mr Rawes made his application, I am hopeful that the IPO will very soon revoke the Trade Marks that appear to have been registered in error.
So sad. Mr Rawes will find he has lost a lot of money and the IPO will find itself publicly embarrassed.
If you have any influence with Mr Rawes, please try to persuade him to negotiate the licence offered or voluntarily change the name of his organisation as this is by far the best option for all involved.
Currently, (this is written January 21st 2015), Ian Rawes has instructed a firm of solicitors to demand I remove the above entry from the London Sound website. As it is factually correct and it is Ian Rawes who is using my Trade Mark without my permission and who recently published a defamatory bogus review through Google, I am not quaking in my boots! It's astonishing that some solicitors will make such seemingly outrageous demands in the hope that us "ordinary mortals" will fall for their bluff! Sorry Mr Oliver Downie at Briffa solicitors, I'm not intimidated, (he's a newly qualified solicitor admitted in November 2014 so we have to be tolerant). Mr Downie, I've posted you a letter, I look forward to your reply.
London Sound Consultancy
In the 1970's, the first serious infringement problem occurred when a business calling itself "London Sound Consultancy" placed a substantial, (and rather expensive), advertisement claiming that they could supply high quality hi-fi equipment. I was very angry, and telephoned them. Initially I was 'stonewalled', but in the end discovered that they were aware of my business, but believing me to be "only a repairer", didn't think it would matter! After receiving the legal papers prior to instituting proceedings through the Court, they swiftly closed down!
This was an effective way for me to protect my name, but was tedious, unpleasant, and expensive. I also had the unhappy feeling that I had destroyed the dreams of a new business.
The next challenger was a small chain of record shops. I wrote to them, warning them of the problem, then sat back and waited. They traded for a short while, then "went away". I never found out if their use of my name destabilised them, or if they failed for other reasons, or continued but under a different name. Maybe someone will tell me one day - I hope it was the last option.
London Sound - The radio station
Never heard of them? Not a surprise! They were quite far advanced when I first heard of them, with some 'big names' on the team - but they forgot to carry out a survey of users of the name to see if the name was available! Realising that this was a very serious challenge, I asked them either to change their name to a unique name of their own, or take out an inexpensive licence from me, (to ensure that use of the name would be controlled in a way that would ensure that I was not harmed - with financial compensation for any inconvenience). They did neither, so I wrote to the Licensing Authority at the time. As everyone knows, they never obtained a broadcasting licence.
London Sound Centre
This is a more recent case, and a puzzle. For some years, I received telephone calls from rather confused callers believing that I would hire out audio equipment. At first I simply told them that London Sound could not help with whatever they were asking about. I then discovered that they had somehow obtained my telephone number, when they believed they were calling a company in the Portobello Road area. I warned London Sound Centre of the problems, and met a rather negative response. After a while, the calls stopped. Did they go out of business, or are they still flourishing, but under another name? I am sorry, I really do not know. I wish them no harm, so hope they changed name and are now succeeding.
I add a rather sad postscript - just before Easter 2006, I was advised that they had gone out of business a while ago. So sad.
Again and again!
Again and again, I come across people and businesses small and large using the name. I now adopt a policy of warning, cautioning, and advising. Some accept my advice, but many become angry, and often argue that the words "London Sound" are just words that "everyone uses".
It is quite reasonable to use the words in everyday conversation, maybe, for example, to describe a noisy street as having a typical London sound.
However, as soon as the words form a title, my rights to the name are challenged, and a legal claim of breach of copyright results. Also, a claim of breach of my established Trade Mark, and Registered Business name exists.
So, if you do decide to risk it, what will happen to you? Consider the period over which I have had sole rights. Businesses small and large have challenged me, and without exception, as you can easily find out, all have eventually failed. Trading with a name to which they have no right wastes resources and ultimately is doomed to failure.
And what if you come across another business illegally using my name that has not yet failed or been stopped? On the basis of past performance of other businesses failing, I would advise not to offer credit! And if expected to entrust anything of value - eg expensive equipment for repair or on loan - be careful!
But, you may ask, why should I have sole rights to such a good, snappy name, and only use if for my hi-fi repair business?
Shouldn't I let others use it?
Yes - but!
The "but" is that it is my name, so I should have some acknowledgement. I offer a licence, with terms tailored by negotiation to suit the individual use licensed. The licence fee is set at a fair and reasonable level, as I seek acknowledgement rather than excessive profits. Licensed users show a small print acknowledgement.
But for those who use the name knowing it is mine, but without a licence, and without acknowledgement, I call you "Thief".
And I also suggest, dear reader, if they would try to 'steal' my identity, it makes you wonder if you can trust them either - - -
Who am I?
My name is Mike Solomons
Born at an early age, as the joke goes, I grew up in Edgware, north west London.
As a child, I was obstinate, (I have now mended my ways - I am now persistent!). Until seven, I refused to try to read - then was given a book on electrical wiring! I read it cover to cover!
At eleven, I recall showing a portable radio that I had designed and built to friends at school. It wasn't very good - but it was mine, (and not copied - it was my own design!).
By my mid teens, I had a good home hi-fi in my bedroom - built from mainly bits of world war two surplus army radio equipment!
And at 16, as a member of JYVS, a voluntary service group for teenagers, I started Radio Edgware, London's first Hospital Radio Station. Soon afterwards I was involved in a number of others, including Radio Brockley, (now London's longest running - http://www.radiobrockley.org ), Radio Mount Vernon, with a small interest, to name a few, in Radio Harrow, Radio Northwick Park, Radio Hampstead, and The Royal Free Network.
Then I went into business.
The business was originally called "Radio and Hi-Fi Service" - but this was a bit of a mouthful, so I re-named it London Sound in 1969, registering the name, as was a legal requirement at the time. Interestingly, it was at that time impossible to register a name already registered, so I have absolute proof that I definitely have been using the name since 1969, and that no one else was using it before!
Over the years, London Sound has changed. Starting as a small business operating from home, it moved to a small shop at 70 West Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill in 1972. In 1980, as my then landlord wanted to redevelop the property, I had to move, and took London Sound to Eastcote. The shop in Eastcote, at 266 Field End Road, was larger, more convenient, and demolished for redevelopment in 1990! Realising that renting shops was a recipe for disaster, I bought the freehold of the present shop in 1990, (a distinctly painful experience - freehold shops in London are very expensive!). It is an interesting place, as it is tiny at the front - about three metres wide, but it gets wider as we go back behind another shop - and it goes back quite a long way!
So what makes London Sound special? There are many repairers of hi-fi, but, as far as I am aware, none in the country quite match it. Operating from premises owned freehold, without a mortgage, means we are stable. Operating with an open door in a high street means we are accessible. Also providing free estimates and a 12 month guarantee on all paid for repairs makes us, as far as I am aware, rare! Yes, there are some other repairers offering restricted 12 month guarantees, but the London Sound guarantee covers the whole unit repaired in a manner similar to when it was new - not just, as with most other repair guarantees, being restricted only to parts fitted.
Apart from rare occasions, we do not sell, so our repair pricing is aimed for your business, not to persuade you to buy a replacement, (because if you do, as I do not sell it to you, I make no money - I only am paid if you agree a repair!).
And can it be mended? I am not the only repairer to specialise in older units where manufacturers cannot supply original spares - but such repairers are rare!
It is also rare to be given a free estimate on request.
And rarer still, are independent repairers guaranteeing their work for twelve months - in writing, (I know of only three other established independent repairer who do this!). The 12 month guarantee is very important - if a repairer only has the confidence to guarantee his work for a short time - typically 30 to 90 days, then as he has little confidence in his abilities, it makes no sense for you to think otherwise!
But to find the lot all at one address - I have claimed it to be unique for many years, and have only once been challenged - but it turned out to be a bogus challenge!
That's enough of the business - so what about the personal information?
As I said above, I was born at an early age on February 23rd 1948, in London. In 1976, I married Sharon. Regularly I tease her that it's ok for now as newly marrieds - but I wonder if the relationship will last when we've been married for a while? With our thirty ninth anniversary in 2015, we still are in the newly married stage, (at least I keep saying so!).
We have two children, Ruth and David, who are both brilliant in their own fields, art and computers.
For those who have worked out the dates, I turned 66 in February 2014, but am not interested in retiring, I enjoy work too much!
And as I age, I remain a happy and confident individual, who enjoys helping people. My chosen business means that I am paid to help people with audio and hi-fi equipment, which does bring so much pleasure. What more could I ask of life?