Insurance giant Marsh and a tech startup are having a trademark row over the word marshmallow

 
Lynsey Barber
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Marsh is disputing the use of Marshmallow (Source: Getty)

An insurance giant with more than 100 years of history under its belt and a tech startup little more than a year old have become embroiled in a row over the word marshmallow.

An unsavoury dispute over trademarks has broken out after Marsh laid claim to the word, which was the name chosen by a couple of entrepreneurs for their London startup which is planning to launch its own insurance product.

The dispute has been going on for longer than founder brothers Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham have been in business. They received notification of the trademark infringement claim after they came up with the idea in 2016 and registered the name - something they said was run past lawyers at the time.

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Oliver (l) and Alexander (r) Kent-Braham worked at digital identity startup Yoti before launching their own business

They have since spent thousands of pounds defending their name and have tried to settle it on three occasions, they said, but with no agreement from Marsh.

"It’s the principle," said Oliver Kent-Braham. "There is a huge amount of innovation in the UK, and in UK insurance. We believe that this innovation is a good thing for consumers and should be supported by large incumbents.

"Unfortunately, in this instance, a huge global company is using their wealth and resources to stifle it. Marsh and Marshmallow are very different names and we would have been doing ourselves and other startups a disservice if we didn’t stand up for ourselves."

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The Intellectual Property Office are now mediating on the matter and could come to a conclusion as soon as the end of January. If the IPO rules against the brothers, they said they would consider taking the case to court.

Marsh declined to comment.

Marshmallow is not the first startup to find itself the target of a legal fight over intellectual property.

In 2016 digital challenger Monzo was forced to change its name from Mondo after action from an unnamed company. And Brolly, another insurance startup, was last year forced to scrap its umbrella logo by US insurance group Travelers.

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