Sandwich chain carried out undercover sting

Walsh stopped using the O’Briens brand in recent months and renamed her outlets under the Finn McCool brand. O’Briens claim this was against the terms of their agreement, which ensured that she could not compete against the chain for a 12 month period.

www.sbpost.ie
March 2, 2008

Sandwich chain carried out undercover sting
Ian Kehoe

O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bars hired a private detective and carried out an undercover sting in an effort to secure a High Court injunction against a former franchisee.

The snack franchise, headed by entrepreneur and Fine Gael general election candidate Brody Sweeney, has obtained a injunction preventing a franchisee from using any of the group’s intellectual property, including its menus, sandwich wrappers and signage.

The injunction followed a lengthy row between O’Briens and Ann Marie Walsh, who previously operated two prominent O’Briens outlets in Dublin city one on Dame Street and the other, a concession outlet, in the Dublin Tourist office on Suffolk Street.

Walsh stopped using the O’Briens brand in recent months and renamed her outlets under the Finn McCool brand. O’Briens claim this was against the terms of their agreement, which ensured that she could not compete against the chain for a 12 month period.

The chain also believed that Walsh was still using O’Briens intellectual property and recruited a private detective. The detective ordered a series of platters from Walsh, and also sourced various menus, many of which still contained the O’Briens brand name.

The company went into the High Court in Dublin last Friday morning seeking the injunction preventing the businesswoman from using its material. O’Briens retained Dublin law firm Fitzpatrick Gallagher McEvoy to secure the High Court order. Fergus Gallagher, a partner with the firm, said his client took the action to protect its brand and its other franchisees.

Fiachra Nagle, O’Briens’ chief executive, said the company and his franchisees had invested a lot of resources in developing the brand. ‘‘We are going to take a very tough line on anyone who breaks our franchise agreement and undermines our intellectual property,” he said.

There are more than 300 franchised O’Briens stores around the world. Earlier this year, it emerged that Sweeney had bought back a 20 per cent stake in the business from Bank of Scotland.


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