Mr. Lube Sues Ms. Lube
Jessica Gilbert entered the Dragons Den proud of her brand new All Female Auto Repair Center she named Ms. Lube.Immediately the Sharks notice a striking similarity between Jessica's business name and the Mr. Lube Brand that happens to be owned by non other then Jim Treliving,the Shark Investor sitting next to Kevin O'Leary. Without batting an eye Kevin asks"are you going to sue these people right away"? Jim looking completely stunned and visually upset at what he was looking at, immediately replies "Right Away".
Obviously this was not rehearsed fake reality t.v. on Jim's face when he was starring right at a major potential business liability for his already established 100+ Mr. Lube Auto Center's. A Brand he has built from the ground up and now he is being filmed on the Dragons Dens while his female counter-part sees nothing wrong with the similarities in the names. She then targets him on the show to invest in her version of the new company.
I could only imagine the producers moved Ms Lube to the front of the line and made sure she got a spot on Dragons Den. If for nothing else the "shock value" which was clearly priceless. Gilbert stood strong in her belief that there was nothing wrong in changing one letter in the Mr Lube Brand and then hired all females instead of mostly male run business. Forget that it also happens to be within the same Industry that would naturally be competing for the same customers, this was Ms. Lube, not Mr. Lube. Needless to say, none of the Sharks showed any interest investing into Jessica's new business plan when one of the other Sharks on the panel was threatening a lawsuit during the taping of the Show.
Ms. Lube Gets Sued by Mr. Lube
True to his word Jim Treliving wastes no time getting a hold of his Lawyer's and immediately sets out to shut down a business that he was not particularly fond of dealing with on the Dragons Den. I could only imagine Jim was not very happy with the producers as well, but, as they say in the business, "That's Show Business".
Even though Jessica Gilbank was being threatened with a lawsuit from a very wealthy Shark for trademark infringement, she still did not see anything wrong with her decision. Naming the New Business Ms. Lube instead of the better name Mechanchick, never seemed to be an option.
Within 3 months, Ms.Lube was officially sued for $240,000.00 but still held on to her belief that she was not doing anything wrong. Jessica instead took the defensive position by stating "It is very representative of the machismo and the male chauvinism that exists in the trade, that they would want to do this to the very first all-female shop”. It was not the business name infringing on the Mr. Lube Brand; instead it was now turning into a gender war between the two now very similar Auto Care Centers.
However you wish to spin it, in my eyes it was a clear violation of Trademark Infringement that clearly was trying to capitalise on a similar business with a similar business name. It's nothing short of opening up a hamburger stand across from Mc Donald's and naming your business Mac Donald's that sells the BG Mac.
However Gilbank rationalised this new business plan in how she was going to go up against a Giant in the industry, in the end she did have to close the auto repair shop.
A Very Interesting Story from the Dragons Den that would/should apply world wide along with something to think about when you are first visualising your next business venture. Had Jessica decided to go on the show and represent her new All Female Auto Care Shop (which does sound like a good idea that could carve out a nice niche in a multi-billion dollar market) as MechanChik instead of Ms Lube, I most likely would be writing a very good success story about this creative business model.
Instead, the Canadian Shark Jim Treliving had very little trouble proving his case and forced Ms Lube to shut down and ultimately go out of business.