You must be Flip-In joking – self-employed hair extension maker gets £98k demand in trademark row
I’ve come across some heavy-handed lawyers in my time but this lot are something else.
Urquhart-Dykes & Lord are intellectual property solicitors and one of their clients is Dayle Adams.
She sells hair extensions under the name Flip-In Hair, a trade mark of her company IP Holdings Ltd, and claims to have customers in 48 countries.
Operating on a vastly smaller scale is single parent Sarah Biddle, from Reading in Berkshire.
She sells her hair extensions through craft website Etsy, making £8,000 in a good year.
Now she’s been sent terrifying demands after using the phrase “flip in” to describe how you put them into your existing hair.
Alison Cole of Urquhart-Dykes & Lord wrote to her on behalf of Dayle Adams and accused her of infringing intellectual property rights.
The senior trademark attorney told Sarah that this “very serious matter” could be resolved amicably – if she paid £98,753 in damages.
“I have never earned anywhere near that,” said Sarah, who trades as Hexy Hair Extensions.
“This is making me scared, angry and upset.
“I don’t know where this is heading, I have no savings to pay a solicitor.
“I just used hashtags and generic terms that everyone was using for describing these types of hair extensions.
“It concerns me that Dayle Adams is using these trademarks to get money from people who innocently use the words ‘flip in’ in relation to hair extensions.”
She told Urquhart-Dykes & Lord, known as UDL, that she had used “flip in” without capital letters merely “in a descriptive manner” and to show goodwill she had now removed it.
The law firm responded by saying that it still wanted payment of what it called the “reasonable and justifiable” damages.
Unsure what to do, Sarah contacted David Fishwick, the consumer champion best known
as the founder of Bank On Dave.
“I wanted to help and I thought by using my resources and my lawyers and media contacts, I would go after the bullies and I would level up the odds for these and other young mums being bullied,” he said.
“In these unprecedented times, I am keen to help people and businesses who are being bullied and who genuinely have nowhere else to turn.”
But even he hit a brick wall, finding Urquhart-Dykes & Lord “very unhelpful”.
Jodie Crosland, who trades as Rayne Bow Extensions & Training Academy in Accrington, Lancs, has had a similarly awful experience. She made a hair extension that, as she described it on Instagram, is “flipped to be worn”.
She was also accused of intellectual property theft by Dayle Adams and told to reveal her suppliers, her clients’ email addresses and – outrageously – their bank account details.
She was given six working days to comply or face charges of £5,000 per day, up to £1.5million.
“You flip in the extension, it’s just an instruction on how to use it,” Jodie said.
“This is like trying to copyright the word ‘hair’.
“I hashtagged it on one Instagram post only.
“This caused me a lot of stress and sleepless nights.
“At first I thought this can’t be real and then I started to panic.”
The demand was so extreme that it backfired, with Jodie getting widespread online support.
“Dayle Adams then left me a voice message apologising, saying it was a mistake and she was just trying to run a business,” she said.
Urquhart-Dykes & Lord – motto “We help you obtain, protect and exploit your intellectual property” – did not respond to me.
Flip-In Hair replied with a vague single sentence stating “the information within your email is factually incorrect”. I asked if it could be more specific but did not get a reply.
Meanwhile, it looks like they themselves might be guilty of the very sin they’ve accused Jodie and Sarah of committing.
The Instagram account of Flip-In Hair includes the hashtag “dreamlengths”.
This is a trade mark of L’Oreal.
Flip-In Hair deleted the reference after I drew it to their attention.
I do hope L’Oreal’s lawyers will be more understanding than Urquhart-Dykes & Lord.
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