A businessman from South Tyneside is being threatened with legal action over breach of trademark - just hours after the first pint was pulled at his new pub.
Stephen Ski - whose portfolio of pubs includes popular venues The Sanddancer in South Shields and Beggar’s Bridge in East Boldon - has just opened Grannie Annie’s in Sunderland after more than six months of renovation work.
But The Granny Annie’s Group in Northern Ireland - which runs a successful chain of bars with the same name in the province - says the Sunderland pub is in violation of its registered trademark.
A spokesman from the Northern Ireland company said: “The Granny Annie’s Group would like to make you aware that this venue is in breach of our UK Trademark and we will be taking legal action against the premises for this breach.
“There are currently four Granny Annie’s throughout Northern Ireland with three additional venues due to open in the province in the next six months.
“The group have also plans to expand into England and Scotland in the near future.”
The Northern Irish company, which launched its first Granny Annie’s in November 2014, also pointed out similarities in the design of the Sunderland premises to their own, which also features a mishmash of lampshades and other bric-a-brac.
The former Smugglers, which closed its doors in December, has been taken over by Mr Ski.
Last week, the bar’s manager said the latest venture is named after Mr Ski’s mum Anne Karczewski, from Hebburn, who is known affectionately as Grannie Annie.
Opening in time for Sunderland Airshow last weekend, the pub has proven a popular new addition to the seafront in its first few days of trading and has maintained the live music and dog-friendly ethos for which Smugglers was well known.
Granny Annie’s in Northern Ireland say they spoke to the South Tyneside businessman last week to tell him of their legal action.
However, a spokesman for Grannie Annie’s in Marine Walk, Roker, said: “We have no comment to make at this time as we have not been informed of any details in relation to this claim.”
There was much interest around the opening of the pub at the landmark site, which has a completely new look.
Renovations have included stripping the former bar and the two former flats upstairs to create a two-storey shabby chic pub, which specialises in live music and real ales, as well as home comfort food.