In what is possibly my favourite story of the year so far, a former HMV employee in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland, who set up an independent record store after his ex-employer shut its shop in his city, has circumvented a possible trademark dispute by simply turning his sign upside down.
The former manager of HMV’s Derry store, Tony Cregan, found a backer to launch an independent record shop in the city after he failed to persuade the faltering HMV UK to keep an outlet there. He decided to call the shop HVM, with a logo and colour scheme very similar to that of his former employer.
At the time that plan was first plotted HMV’s future was uncertain, especially on the island of Ireland, where the majority of the entertainment retailer’s outlets had been shut in both the North and the South. But once Hilco had brought HMV out of administration, and set about reopening some of the firm’s Irish stores, a legal letter arrived threatening action against Cregan for his HVM brand.
The solution was simple. He turned the sign of his new shop around which, in the HMV-style font he had employed, spelt out WAH.
Cregan told BreakingNews.ie: “We thought what is the point calling the new shop Local CDs, or whatever, we’ll just call it HVM. HMV is gone. [But Hilco's lawyers said the] presence in the market of a business operating under the name HVM has caused and will continue to cause substantial damage to their client’s reputation and goodwill. So we just turned the sign upside down, now it’s called WAH”.
It’s created a great little news story to build interest in the city’s new indie record shop. And Cregan says things are going well. He added: “People are saying the vibe here is great, it’s really friendly. I’d love to say that was our intention all along and we’re really smart, but that wasn’t the plan at all”.