The National Trust for Scotland owns large tracts of Glen Coe. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The National Trust for Scotland owns large tracts of Glen Coe. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A leading Scottish landscape charity stands accused of heavy-handed behaviour after it ordered a small outdoors gear company to stop using the name Glencoe for one of its jackets.

Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing received a solicitors’ cease-and-desist letter on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, saying the charity owned the trademark.

Aboyne-based Hilltrek’s owner Dave Shand took to social media to ask the public if that was how a small Scottish business should be treated.

He pointed out the company has been producing the Glencoe DV Jacket, which retails for £365, for 30 years. The NTS registered Glencoe as a trademark in January last year.

It also owns trademarks for St Kilda and Glenfinnan. The Glencoe trademark covers a wide range of products, from face creams to industrial oil, kilt pins, musical instruments, photographs, whips, camping furniture, drinking flasks, tents, thimbles, Christmas tree decorations, nuts and crisps and shortbread, plus clothing.

The letter from the trust’s solicitors Shepherd and Wedderburn was sent on 4 August to the Aberdeenshire-based company, ordering it to stop selling any goods with the Glencoe name immediately, and to refrain from using the trademarked name in future.

It said: “NTS seeks to ensure that only goods and services of suppliers with geographical links to Glencoe can bear the name Glencoe and also to protect the interests of the local community and local trade in Glencoe.”

Hilltrek owner Dave Shand. Photo: Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing

Hilltrek owner Dave Shand. Photo: Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing

Mr Shand said: “We sell a premium product made in Scotland so I can’t understand why this would be damaging to the trademark. Come on NTS, fair play.”

Hilltrek had a turnover of £166,000 in the year ended October 2016; the trust’s commercial arm, National Trust for Scotland Enterprises turned over more than £11.6m according to the latest published accounts.

Mr Shand bought the company 15 years ago from founders Evelyn and Andy Tivendale. Its website describes him as an outdoor enthusiast and self-confessed outdoor gear freak who prefers the outdoors to offices.

“On his days off, Dave can be met on top of a mountain selling the benefits of Hilltrek gear, on his bike on one of the hill tracks around the Cairngorms or with his camera trying to capture a ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph of a mountain hare or West Coast sunset,” it says.

“When he can get enough time off he can be found on a trek in the Himalayas, testing himself as well as Hilltrek clothing.”

Hilltrek received widespread support from social media commentators some of whom accused the National Trust for Scotland of persecuting and bullying small businesses and threatening to cancel their membership of the charity.

Mr Shand also pointed out that most of his company’s products bear Scottish place names. “We name our clothing, with a few exceptions, after places in Scotland which have inspired us through being in the outdoors: hillwalking, climbing, running, cycling etc,” he said. “Glencoe is one of those places. If this type of trade mark is permitted we will have no Scottish place names for our clothing.”

Following the furore, the National Trust for Scotland took a more placatory stance. A spokesman said: “In retrospect, although the letter sent to Hilltrek was a standard one, it may have been in the circumstances of this particular company too harsh in tone.

“Many people have been surprised that it is both possible and necessary to trademark a place name like Glencoe.

The Hilltrek Glencoe DV Jacket

The Hilltrek Glencoe DV Jacket

“This was a surprise to us too, when an attempt was made to trademark St Kilda by a third party without our knowledge or consent, despite us owning and caring for the property.

“Although we eventually came to an agreement over this, the Intellectual Property Office confirmed that the bid had been both legal and permissible.

“Therefore, as defensive measure, we ourselves have registered trademarks for some of the properties we own. We recognise that these are iconic Scottish locations and names worthy of protection.

“From the outset we have never had any intention of undermining established and new businesses trading locally to our registered properties, and we have gone out of our way to ensure they can continue trading without interruption or cost. What we have done, after taking legal advice, is to contact a number of companies using trademarked names which are not local.

“In the case of Glencoe, we have, for example, contacted businesses based in England and France over the use of the name.

“Our only desire is to protect the properties in our care and stop them being exploited in ways which do not accord with our charitable purposes.

“Our letter to Hilltrek was intended to open up negotiation to establish if the company had legal prior trading rights and clearly the wording and tone did not convey this.

“We have now spoken to the company and have entered into a dialogue with them with the aim of finding a mutually agreeable solution.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Photographer James Kirk captures ghostly Glencoe trail during night camp
  2. Andrew Bachell appointed chief executive of John Muir Trust
  3. Overrunning repairs mean Glencoe’s Coire Gabhail bridge stays closed to walkers