Loanhead haggis firm wins legal battle over website

Macsweens Haggis factory in Bilston Industrial Estate, Loanhead
Macsweens Haggis factory in Bilston Industrial Estate, Loanhead

Loanhead-based haggis maker Macsween has won a legal battle with a firm they accused of trying to cash in on their business.

The web address, www.macsweenshaggis.co.uk, was registered as a domain name by Hillhead Hampers, an online mail order food business based in Bannockburn. Hillhead Hampers told the legal hearing that Macsween’s complaint was “corporate bullying” and argued that its website made clear that it was not related to the haggis maker although it sold their goods

Hillhead Hampers is run by Elaine Macpherson and is based at her family’s farm.

The Nominet Dispute Resolution Service - which oversees .uk domains - ruled the bogus website should be handed over to Macsween.

Macsween managing director James Macsween hit out at the company for trying to take advantage of the name of his firm, based at Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, which was founded by his grandfather in 1953.

He said: “This website was using our brand name to benefit their business without permission.

“We have one official mail order partner in the UK and Hillhead Hampers aren’t it. They were trying to take advantage of our trade name.

“We tried asking them nicely to take the website down but it didn’t work so I had to get lawyers involved.

“This only came to light because a customer complained to our official partner about one of the products they had bought from this website.

“We are a family business which has been going for 66 years and we have worked hard to build up our brand so we can’t have people jumping on our coat-tails.”

Mr Macsween said he first became aware of Hillhead Hampers in 2014 when his company were forced to pay £400 to buy another website they had registered called www.macsweenhaggis.co.uk.

In a written decision, Nominet’s independent expert, who ruled on the case, said: “When taken as a whole, this is the kind of domain name which the public are likely to see as being something official and connected to (authorised by) the complainants.

“It feels to me like the kind of domain name that a business such as the complainant would naturally have and I think that an internet user would come to the same conclusion.

“On a balance of probabilities, I find that the complainant has established that the domain name in the hands of the respondent is an abusive registration.”

Hillhead Hampers declined to comment.