The Little Chapel Foundation has submitted an application to the Guernsey Registry to copyright the brand, but as the work was done free of charge, with no transaction, Joseph Smith of Mojoe Ltd said that legally, he retains ownership of the artwork.
Mr Smith said yesterday that after learning of the threat of legal action towards silversmith Martyn Guille, the chapel’s neighbour on the site, he was moving towards disassociating himself from the foundation, and wants to get his company name removed from the Little Chapel website.
‘I’m very disappointed that I gave the foundation serious amounts of free time to create all of their branding, logo and marketing material when they first started out,’ he said.
‘If I’d known they were going to behave like this, I never would have supported them and I’m sure a lot of other companies are feeling the same right now.’
The Foundation’s application to Guernsey Registry for the trademark of the name ‘The Little Chapel’ and also the copyright of the logo and image, designed by Mr Smith and visible on its website, is now at the stage of asking for opposition. Mr Smith said he would be in contact with the Registry.
The Registry has already examined the merits of the application, which were considered appropriate, said a spokeswoman, and there is now a 20-working-day period for public representations.
Mr Smith also creates candles as a sideline business, including one called Little Chapel Lullaby, which includes an image of the landmark and is sold at Martyn Guille Silversmiths.
He added that even if the foundation owned the copyright to such merchandise, they should be pursuing those who design or make the gifts, such as himself, rather than Mr Guille, pictured, for selling the products.
‘The Little Chapel is an iconic piece of Guernsey’s identity, along with images of cows or donkeys, but to go after all reproductions of them would be impossible and you can’t own it,’ he said.
‘It is a really sad day that it has come to this, but story has really taken off, and the amazing support for Martyn shows that Guernsey people can’t stand bullying.’
After the story was featured on the front page of the Guernsey Press yesterday, Mr Guille said he had been inundated with positive support and islanders raring to help.
‘The amount of support has just been absolutely amazing, and I haven’t seen a single negative comment towards me,’ he said.
‘It’s been really interesting and humbling reading the comments of the Guernsey Press article online and I’ve learnt a lot, but I won’t be able to relax until the legal dispute is sorted.’
The online version of the story on guernseypress.com had more than 50 comments by the end of the day and some 150 people had commented on the story on our Facebook page.