May we as directors of the Shetland Fudge Company take this opportunity to correct some mis-understanding with regards to our so-called “feud” with Burra Bears.
Firstly, we have never, nor do we intend to prevent Burra Bears from using “Shetland Teddy Bears”, “original Shetland teddy bears” or any other permutation of those words on its site.
They are generic terms and we would be laughed out of court. Anyone who has bothered to get to know me knows I am many things, but stupid is not one of them. It is purely the term “Shetland Teddy Bear Company” which infringes our trademark, and despite other views which are being bandied around, Mrs Inkster could shed more light on this if she chose to do so, which obviously she does not, because it suits her purpose.
She does not have to change the name of her site or her bears, she has simply, by law, to remove any trace of our name from her goods and literature. It really is that simple. Those who do not understand the difference between copyright and trademark law should really keep their views to themselves. We have infringed no copyright of Burra Bears, it is they who have deliberately, and admittedly, infringed ours. There would be little point in having a registered trademark if it was not upheld. I cannot think of any other business that would not defend their trademark. I would not have done so had there been any other way.
We called it The Shetland Teddy Bear company because we were building the brand, and despite being English will continue to do so, regardless of the opinions of a few mindless idiots.
Secondly, we do not take kindly to the frankly racist and abusive comments that one member of our staff has been subjected to on Facebook. If anyone has an argument they should direct it to the company, certainly not towards staff, and not through the dilution of social media, hiding along with the other racist cowards.
To say that a new design should not be made from original materials is like saying if someone made a Shetland gansey, then no-one should make a cardigan, and beyond ludicrous. We started the Teddy Bear Company after running a year-long visitor book in 2006, asking visitors to our shop what they felt was missing in Shetland. Cheese was the top answer, and we had plans to start the Shetland Cheese Company, interrupted by a stroke. Two others have gone on to do the same, which we applaud and support by purchasing.
The second, overwhelmingly, was toys and teddy bears that were safe to give to children. Speiliks met the demand for the former, Burra Bears did not meet demand for the latter, so we filled a niche in the market. If Wendy had done this, we would not. It really is that simple. As far as we know, our limited sales have made no impact on Burra Bear sales, and if asked specifically for Burra bears, our staff happily directed customers over the road to the Hansel. (Whom Wendy began supplying the week after she stopped supplying us “due to family bereavement and excessive demand”). If you want to know the real reason, which I am too ladylike and professional to disclose in the public domain, just stop me when you see me and ask me! I’ll tell you the truth.
Thirdly, I have been blessed and honoured to live in Shetland for 20 years. I am married to a Shetlander, and I employ Shetlanders. I promote Shetland and Shetland the brand everywhere I go and my love of the place and its people, who have shown me nothing but courtesy and welcome, overwhelmingly outshines any comments that have recently appeared. I tell anyone and everyone who will listen that Shetlanders welcome newcomers with open arms, and the puerile and racist comments we have endured this week, thankfully bear no relation to real Shetlanders’ opinions. No pun intended – I really am not in the mood!
Fourthly, I would make it clear that I have made teddy bears over 37 years. It was my first real little earner, sadly set aside by ill-health and the constraints of running two businesses. The second person I met when I moved to Shetland proudly showed me her designs for teddy bears that she had made for years – ursaphiles tend to find each other! Maybe this was the original Shetland teddy Bear? Maybe you know better?
We had no objection to Peerie Treats making fudge – and indeed offered them help and advice – there was no “feud” there. We have no “feud” with Tweedies, the other Shetland Teddy Bears you can find online, who offered us their Shetland Teddy bears made from Shetland Tweed. Are they accused of plagiarism too? They are not trying to trade on our brand name.
This is the crux of the matter. Mrs Inkster states to me in her letter defending her infringement, and I quote: “there is no likelihood of confusion over the two”. That is her defence, so which is it? I have not published her solicitor’s threatening letter to me, despite The Shetland Times‘ request to do so, because I do not see the validity in adding fuel to this fire. By attempting to maintain a dignified silence over this I am met with a barrage of lies and Shetland propaganda which most Shetlanders would be appalled by. There has been much more going on here than I am prepared to divulge, and I am trying to rise above it, but after four years of it, if I keep being pushed then I will.
Lastly, the comments that we also copied Beltain candles is hysterical and posted by someone ignorant and lacking in the ability to pick up a phone and ask! Beltain Candles and the Fudge Company enjoy a happy and fruitful relationship, she has made candles for us for years. They are sold under our brand name because that is the way Katrina wanted it. I don’t expect that person would have the integrity to offer an apology! If they do I will let you know. And as for our plagiarism of the Shetland Soap Company, Lyndsay, the Bixter vet, and I made Smoorikens Soap for three years before the Soap Company came into existence, and I am sure many of my Another Cat-astrophe! customers will remember that. In fact we only stopped after The Soap Company started on the street, as Lyndsay moved south to take up a new vet post and it proved too difficult to overcome logistics.
This has become a “feud” because it makes a good news story, and I sincerely believe was done for publicity purposes giving inadvertent free publicity to both parties. I was informed yesterday that we are top of Google rankings now, so the misguided people who think they are supporting Burra Bears are doing exactly the opposite. I do not expect any of the sub-morons who have made these comments will have the decency to retract and apologise now (some of) the truth is out. And finally – because I am getting bored with this and have an actual life and business to get on with – our bears start at £65 off the shelf – the same price as Burra Bears, but that would have taken someone actually asking before typing!
Thomas and Gillian Ramsay
The Shetland Fudge Company Ltd,
The Shetland Teddy Bear Company,
The Shetland Candle Company,
The Shetland Art Company,
The Shetland Hamper Company.