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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Mall disputes BT name change
O2 logo
The centre's owners are consulting lawyers
A shopping centre in London may take legal action against BT after it re-named its mobile phone operation O2.

The retail mall is also called O2, and management are taking legal advice over the issue, because they registered the name for retail use nearly two years ago.

More centres using the O2 name are planned for other locations around the country and in Europe.

However, BT says it has no plans to alter the re-branding because the two businesses are "completely" different.

BT announced the name change, which will replace BT Wireless, on Monday.

The name will come into effect later this year, while O2 products will be available in the shop from spring 2002.

Common courtesy should have dictated they were told in private and not left to find it out when BT made its announcement on Monday

Burford and MWB spokesman
However, the O2 centre opened in Finchley Road in November 1999, and is said to attract more than seven million customers a year.

It is owned by property groups Burford and Marylebone Warwick Balfour (MWB) and the companies say they will not bow to any pressure BT might use to force them to change the name.

A spokesman for both companies said that depending on the outcome of consultations with lawyers, the firms would "seriously" consider the legal action.

He said: "Both companies felt a little upset that BT had not at least told them that this name change was their intention.

'Different fields'

"Common courtesy should have dictated that BT told them in private and they weren't left to find it out when BT made its announcement on Monday."

He added that, unlike in the US, British companies did not tend to defend their brands and names.

"But they should be in a position to defend their identities just as vigorously," he added.

However, BT believes the potential legal action will not put the company in a difficult position.

A spokesman said: "As far as we're concerned, the two companies [BT and O2] are operating in completely different fields.

"We don't believe it will be a problem because customers will not become confused between the two."

See also:

05 Sep 01 | Business
BT sets mobile float date
03 Sep 01 | Business
BT unveils new mobile brand
02 Sep 01 | Business
BT heads for November demerger
27 Aug 01 | Business
BT Wireless 'to axe 1,500 jobs'
09 Jul 01 | dot life
Brand-builders talk your language
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