Tea room chain operator and Yorkshire Tea owner Bettys and Taylors Group has forced a tiny café in Whitby to rename one of its cakes.
Sandgate Coffee & Delights, a three-table café in the seaside town, has stopped using the name Fat Rascals after receiving a visit and two letters from Bettys and Taylors Group, which operates six tea shops in Yorkshire and owns the Taylors of Harrogate tea business.
Bettys holds a trade mark for the name and design of the Fat Rascal – a scone with a ‘face’ made from cherries and almonds – although its origins date back to the 19th century. The Fat Rascal is one of Bettys’ best-selling baked products.
“We didn’t realise it was trademarked,” said Helen Matos, who runs the café with Mark Whittaker.
“We’re just a little business, we are a tiny little place and just want to pay our bills every month. We want to do what we do, and not on the shirttails of anybody else.”
Matos was first made aware of the trade mark when a Bettys director visited the café in the summer. The business also received two letters from Bettys asking it to stop using the name.
Following the visit, the café has changed the name of its scones from Fat Rascal to Whitby Fatties – and says they are selling better than ever.
But the Whitby business is disappointed it has had to change the name, particularly as one of the earliest references, in the 1855 Glossary of Yorkshire Words and Phrases Collected in Whitby and the Neighbourhood, associates the Fat Rascal with the town.
“I was raised in this area, so why can’t I sell something that originated in Whitby?” said Matos. “We buy all the ingredients for our cakes in Whitby, so why can’t I sell everything local in my shop?”
Bettys said it was “sad” it had to “disappoint Helen and Mark”.
“While the name Fat Rascal has some references in old literature, the idea of a plump fruity scone, topped with natural cherry eyes and split almond mouth was created by Bettys over 30 years ago,” it stated.
“We’re a family business and it’s important that we protect the name of our specialities for the future and on behalf of all those who love Bettys. It’s what any business has to do.”
Subscribers to British Baker can read legal advice on trade mark protection here.