LEVI'S PICK UP THE TAB; Jeans Giant in Trademark Row

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE LEWIS

A TINY clothing company has been threatened with legal action by jeans giant Levi Strauss and Co.

Howies Ltd, which employs five people and has an annual turnover of less than pounds 300,000, has been stunned by a writ from the huge San Francisco-based company.

Levi's claim the company has infringed its trademark red tab with a grey one of its own on the side of the back pocket of its jeans.

Howies director David Hieatt, 38, who runs the business with wife Claire in Cardigan, west Wales, said: "This is a classic David v Goliath case.

"Levi's apparently has a patent for the position of the tab on the back pocket, but how on earth were we supposed to know?

"What's the problem? We don't even sell our products in the US.

"Levi's is acting like an overbearing, corporate bully and we all think they are completely mad."

David said he was shocked when Levi's lawyers wrote to say his company's use of the tab could cause confusion among customers and was a possible infringement of trademark.

He added: "Perhaps the fact we came ninth in Britain's top brands list and Levi's 27th has influenced its attitude. …