In the image above, we have a Rolex Oyster Perpetual priced at £5,400 and an Oyster & Pop children's educational clock priced at £20.87. Could the similarity between the two cause confusion? The Swiss luxury watchmaker is concerned that it could.
In the latest example of a potential David vs. Goliath branding battle, Rolex has ordered a little-known UK company to rebrand. It argues that consumers could be confused by its name and logo (See our guide to the best Apple Watch Series 8 prices or our pick of the best Apple Watch alternatives if you're looking for a watch that can do more than tell the time).
Rolex is the world's best-known manufacturer of luxury timepieces. The Devon-based family-run startup Oyster & Pop isn't, but it does make very colourful and didactic clocks to help children learn to tell the time. According to Rolex, that could lead to confusion with its famed Oyster range, which takes its name from the sealed case that the company invented in 1926, named after an appropriately high-end mollusc due to its waterproof properties.
According to the BBC (opens in new tab), Rolex's legal team reckons that consumers will connect Oyster & Pop (opens in new tab), which also sells stationery, highlighters, chore charts and fraction sets, with its brand, so it's told the company to change its name, logo and website url. It's already managed to block the company from applying for a trademark in the US since the British company couldn't afford to pay lawyers to argue its case, causing it to lapse.
But sisters Emma Ross-McNairn and Sarah Davies, who founded Oyster & Pop in 2020, say they don't believe anyone could confuse the brands. They insist that they didn't take their name from Rolex's trademarked brand but from Oyster Bend, a road in Torbay, South Devon, where they lived when they were growing up.
Ross-McNairn told the BBC that changing the brand name now would "crush the business." She added: "You see Formula One and Rolex sponsoring such huge events like that, you don't then think of a children's clock company. If someone says oyster to me, the first thing I think of is the Oyster Card on the tube, not Rolex watches... I don't think anyone could confuse our clocks as coming from Rolex."