Amazon threatens legal action against shop fighting homelessness

Amazon threatens legal action against shop fighting homelessness

04/23/2021

Amazon threatens legal action against shop set up to fight homelessness in Worcestershire after lawyers order it to change ‘smile’ logo on its signage

  • Amaze, shop set up to tackle homelessness, threatened by Amazon’s legal team 
  • Shop owners Chris Lee and Polly Reehal received 35-page letter from lawyers 
  • Retail giant requested the shop alter its logo so as not to ‘confuse customers’
  • Pair been forced to remove smile from logo ahead of grand opening tomorrow 

Amazon has threatened to take legal action against a shop which was set up to fight homelessness in Worcestershire – sending in lawyers to order the company to change its ‘smile’ logo on its signage.  

Amaze, which is due to open tomorrow in Malvern, received a 35-page letter from Amazon’s legal advisers outlining concerns the shop’s ‘use of Amazon’s trademarks’ would ‘confuse customers’. 

Shop owners Chris Lee and Polly Reehal, who experienced homelessness themselves, were hoping to open the doors to customers but fear the grand opening may be in jeopardy after Amazon’s demands. 

Amaze, a shop set up to tackle homelessness in Worcestershire, has been forced to change its logo last minute after receiving a threat of legal actions from Amazon’s lawyers. Picture: Shop owner Chris Lee with stepdaughter Anoop

Amazon’s legal team wrote to shop owners Chris Lee and Polly Reehal requesting they change the shop’s logo (pictured) as the company believed it would confuse customers

In a letter to Mr Lee, Morgan Lewis, representing Amazon, said the retail giant was concerned that use of its trademarks, in particular the use of the ‘smile logo’, would confuse consumers into believing the shop was connected with or endorsed by Amazon. 

The letter asked Mr Lee to adopt new signage that does not include the ‘smile logo’ , adding that Amazon had no objection to the use of the name Amaze.

Amazon itself pledged to contact Mr Lee with a view to making a donation and/or discussing how it could help further but added that no statement could be provided due to the legalities of the trademark matter.

Ms Reehal, who lives in Worcester, said: ‘We have been working so hard for months collecting donations from some amazingly generous people and now days before we are due to open the shop Amazon is trying to stop us.

‘The richest man in the world has instructed his lawyers to stop us smiling just days before we open on Saturday – it’s beyond belief.’

The pair confirmed the Worcester Road shop’s grand opening event on Saturday will still go ahead but the smile icon will be removed to appease Amazon. 

Chris Lee and Polly Reehal (pictured) feared the grand opening tomorrow may not be able to go ahead but instead opted to remove the logo to appease Amazon

Amazon said it had no issues with the company’s name Amaze and also pledged to contact Mr Lee (pictured) with a view to making a donation and/or discussing how it could help further

Mr Lee and Ms Reehal found themselves homeless in the run-up to Christmas 2016.

He lost everything he owned and had to walk out of his five-bedroom home in Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, and they ended up sleeping in his car.

After getting back on their feet, with the help of kind strangers who offered them a shed to sleep in, the family have dedicated themselves to helping others facing homelessness.

They set up a community interest company called Let’s Make A Change, offering discount voucher schemes and programmes which sponsor homeless people in finding employment.

At Saturday’s event there will be live music throughout the day, stilt men, and free ice cream for everybody who visits the shop and all money raised at the shop will go to Let’s Make A Change CIC.

Ms Reehal said: ‘This is no ordinary charity shop. There are no old clothes, shoes or bedding, only quality furniture, pictures and ornaments together with a large range of home crafted items on sale.’

Mr Lee (pictured) and Ms Reehal found themselves homeless in the run-up to Christmas 2016 and they were forced to sleep in their car

Mr Lee and Ms Reehal set up a community interest company called Let’s Make A Change, offering discount voucher schemes and programmes which sponsor homeless people in finding employment and have since expanded it to a shop

Mr Lee added: ‘We were homeless, we lost everything. It’s only when you’ve got personal experience of being homeless that you realise just how bad it is. You realise just how much of a hill you have to climb.

‘People are so generous in dropping a quid in a hat. That helps but it doesn’t build a future. When you’re homeless you need to have a means to get a job and build your confidence.

‘We provide employment for people in need and give them the opportunity to earn a living wage.

‘We even have a workshop at the back of the shop so customers can see our special craft items being made.

‘The shop has been supported by over 17 volunteers who have offered their help for this worthy cause.

‘It’s just been amazing the number of kind people in Worcestershire that have come in to assist us in this project.’

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