May 17, 2018 1:25 pm
Updated: May 17, 2018 4:22 pm

N.S. minister lends support to local barber locked in trademark dispute with national chain

Tommy's Barber Shop is located on Albro Lake Road in Dartmouth, tucked in between a variety store and Chinese restaurant.

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A Nova Scotia cabinet minister is lending support to a local barber locked in a dispute with a national chain over the name of his shop.

Thong Luong, owner of Tommy’s Barber Shop in north-end Dartmouth says the Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop chain sent him a cease-and-desist letter this month alleging trademark infringement.

“It took me a long time to carry this name,” Luong, a father of three, said Thursday.

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“I’m proud of this. Every time my kids go shopping with me, and they see someone call me ‘Hi Tommy’ they’re so proud and they said ‘Dad, everybody like you. I never see a person who don’t like you.”‘

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Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan told reporters at the provincial legislature that he doesn’t see how the name of a small barber shop confuses customers or depreciates the national chain’s brand.

“What Tommy Gun’s offers in terms of the consistency of the layout, the products, the services, it’s very different than what you would see at an independent barber,” said MacLellan.

Luong immigrated from Vietnam to Canada in 1984 as a teenager.

After finishing high school, he said he worked 90 hours a week, washing dishes and fixing jewelry until he opened his own barbershop in 2003, six years before Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop registered its trademark.

MacLellan said there are no issues as far as the province is concerned – Tommy’s Barber Shop is registered with Nova Scotia’s Registry of Joint Stocks and is “completely compliant.”

The minister said he understands the “reputable” national chain – which has two shops in the Halifax area – might feel it needs to keep its brand equity strong.

But MacLellan said he thinks there is room for both businesses, and he hopes they can work things out without “any catastrophic impact on either side.”

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Luong said T.G. Corporate Holdings Limited gave him until May 22 to change his business name and register a new name with the government. Lawyers for the company did not immediately return phone calls.

Luong plans to ignore the letter, and said three lawyers have already offered to take his case pro bono.

“My daughter cried this afternoon and I told her ‘Don’t worry, daddy will be fine,” Luong said.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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