'Frustrating': Name dispute leads Manitoba clothing company working with Jets, Bombers to close over

'Frustrating': Name dispute leads Manitoba clothing company working with Jets, Bombers to close over

A Manitoba clothing retailer is closing up shop suddenly, going out of business at the end of the month.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal battle over the company’s name, Oak and Oar.

The Winnipeg company sells casual sports and weekend wear. They have a retail store inside the Johnston Terminal at The Forks.

The company sold items with its name featured on clothing, but also major sports teams. In a 2015 ‘Lookbook’, the company featured Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler in some of the brand’s clothing. Online it said the name Oak and Oar was inspired by time at the cabin.

Another company with similar name

Oak and Oar said there is another clothing retailer and designer based in British Columbia with a similar name.

CTV News has requested documents from the Canadian trademarks office to confirm the name of that company. So far, Oak and Oar is not disclosing the name.

Oak and Oar owner Chris Watchorn said they’re not naming the other company to avoid conflict, as it wouldn’t be beneficial.

In a post online Monday, the company said it had been going through a process to secure the Oak and Oar trademark since 2014.

Oak and Oar said this other brand saw the name as a threat to their business.

Tuesday, Watchorn said he was trying to work on a settlement over the holidays, but the other brand argued the names are similar and could cause confusion.

Closing January 28

Oak and Oar says it has decided to close for a number of reasons. It said pursuing the right to use the name would be lengthy and costly and the move to close helps avoid a lawsuit, and it believed the brand couldn’t win against this other company.

Oak and Oar said it can’t develop any new products and is closing its store on Sunday Jan. 28.

“We have always tried to operate with integrity and the whole situation is difficult to discuss without speaking from a place of frustration,” said Watchorn.

Watchorn added that Oak and Oar was a labour of love and Winnipeg is a good place to start and run a business.

“We came off our biggest year to date without question. We were able to work with every Winnipeg sports team including the Bombers, Jets, Moose and Goldeyes along with resurrecting the Winnipeg Thunder. All projects that my 10-year-old self is still smiling about, ear to ear,” said Watchorn.

Published at Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:05:00 -0500