M&S sends ice cream shop cease and desist over Percy Pig flavour

Don’t hog our trademark! Family-run gelato cafe has to change the name of its Percy Pig ice cream after Marks & Spencer sent a cease and desist letter asking them to rename it ‘something like Pig Faces’

  • The ice cream parlour was sent a packet of the sweets with the letter
  • The owner has since set up a competition to rename the ice cream 

A family-run gelato shop has been forced to change the name of its Percy Pig ice cream after it received a cease and desist letter from Marks & Spencer.

Fabio’s Gelato, based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, received the letter which included a pack of sweets on May 11, a week after the new flavour was announced on its Facebook page.

M&S claimed the owner, Fabio Vincineti, could not use the name of the product – because since 1992 Percy Pig can only be used on ‘official M&S products’. 

Mr Vincineti, who owns the business with his wife Hannah, said: ‘Just before the King’s coronation we made the ice cream and advertised it.

‘The day we actually started selling it was the day we were sent the letter. It said we were more than welcome to use the product but not the name.

Mr Vincineti received a personally addressed letter from Marks & Spencer on the exact day that the new flavour went on sale

The retailer even included a pack of the famed sweets in the letter by way of a peace offering

The family-run ice cream parlour creates gelato from several branded items including chocolate bars, energy drinks, McDonalds and Marmite

‘The letter was really fair and was a nice way of saying stop using the name,’ he added.

‘I get they’ve worked really hard to create the brand name, so it’s understandable. They gave us alternative name ideas and even sent a packet of sweets.

‘It’s the first time we’ve been sent a letter like this. We always just thought we were too small – we’re a drop in the ocean. To be spotted by them is quite flattering really.

‘Because M&S have done so well with the brand I know they get copied by other supermarkets a lot – we even tweeted Aldi as a joke asking for a chat.’

However, this is the first time they’ve received a legal request from a brand to change the name of their product.

Customers queue up outside the shop in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Facebook users poke fun at the parlour after it launched a competition to change the name of the ice cream 

M&S said in its letter: ‘While we are flattered that you have been inspired to create a flavour based on our Percy Pig sweets, and in no way wish to stop you selling this flavour or from using our sweets to top it, we would be grateful if you could avoid using the name Percy Pig to do so.

‘Percy Pig is one of our ”hero” brands and we own trade marks to protect it.. We risk losing those trade marks (and more importantly to us, consumers will no longer be confident Percy Pig-branded products originate from M&S) if we do not take steps to stop others from using them without our permission.

‘We hope you understand how important it is for us to protect our brand. However, we also understand that mistakes are easily made in this area and we are keen to resolve this amicably.’

M&S then asked if the ice cream parlour could confirm it had renamed the flavour within 14 days, saying that ‘Something like Pig Faces or Pig Sweets would be fine’.

In a statement, an M&S spokesperson said it was ‘careful to only put [Percy Pig’s] name on official M&S products’.

‘It’s flattering that he’s inspired Fabio’s new gelato and we hope they enjoy the treat we sent.’

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