Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Npower urged to drop 'juice' row

Juice point
Npower objects to the recharging posts being called "juice points"

An energy firm has been urged to withdraw its threat to sue a London council over its use of the word "juice".

Npower is accusing Westminster Council of infringing its trademark by calling its free recharging posts for electric and hybrid cars "juice points".

Npower introduced its renewable energy offer 'Npower juice' in 2001.

The council's "juice points" were first announced in 2006 but came into effect last May.

Sir Simon Milton, deputy mayor for policy and planning, said: "The mayor believes electric and hybrid cars are an important part of London's efforts in tackling pollution, and supports the introduction of on-street recharging points.

"We are therefore disappointed that a major company such as Npower is making matters difficult for a local authority which is seeking to encourage more environmentally-friendly travel."

Our 'juice points' are a key element in encouraging the switch to less polluting forms of transport

Councillor Danny Chalkley, Westminster Council

A spokesperson said the mayor, Boris Johnson, who part-funds Westminster's 60 free recharging points, plans to add a further six this year.

He said that the mayor has pledged 395,000 to increase the number across the capital to 175 by 2010.

Councillor Danny Chalkley, from Westminster Council, met with representatives from Npower in an attempt to resolve the dispute, in which he said the company had shown "complete disregard" for the environmental aspects of its scheme.

"As a central London authority air pollution is a major public health concern for us, and our 'juice points' are a key element in encouraging the switch to less polluting forms of transport," he said.

'Very sad'

A council spokesman said after the meeting that while Npower still insists it has ownership of the word "juice", its threat of legal action seems to have softened.

"Although the meeting was constructive we are still some way off resolving the issue," the spokesman said.

Npower said its 'juice' tariff - which has 50,000 customers - was launched in 2001.

Under the scheme, the company matches every unit of normal electricity with renewable energy from sources including North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm, which it feeds into the power network.

An Npower spokesman said: "We wish Westminster well and we would like to see their initiative work but it should be under their name, not ours."

He said the company are "very sad" that the council did not do a simple trade name check which he said could have avoided the dispute.

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