Submitted by: Rhian Lees
I should start by saying that whilst I’m not a lawyer, I understand trademark law and how important it is to intellectual property rights, business and income protection, but this London Eye argument has made me really ratty.
In case you haven’t seen it in other local press, the Danter family have received a letter from Merlin Entertainment’s lawyers, stating that they can no longer use the name ‘the Barry Eye’ and advise that “despite the reference to Barry, there is bound to be an assumption by the public that your wheel is in some way connected to our client and its London Eye attraction.”
Let’s look at the facts. The London Eye, or Coca-Cola London Eye to give its official title, is a 135m tall ‘cantilevered observation wheel’ on the banks of the River Thames. It has 32 capsules, each able to hold 25 people and costs a minimum of £21.20 for a 30 minute rotation. It’s the most popular tourist attraction in the UK, serving 3.75 million visitors annually. By my reckoning, that’s a minimum annual revenue of £79.5M for Merlin, one of the world’s biggest leisure operators, with 124 attractions, 16 hotels and 3 holiday villages across 25 countries. If you want to part with more than £21.20, other options include a Champagne Experience (£31.95), Hotel Chocolat Tasting Experience (£50.00), Eye Lounge Experience (£38.75), Champagne Tasting Experience (£50.00), Guided Tour (£27.95) or a Wine Tasting Experience (£47.00). All of these are available to purchase on the London Eye’s dedicated website. That’s right, it has its own website.
In contrast, the Barry Big Wheel Thing sits inside Barry Island Pleasure Park, is just 29m high and has 20 capsules, each seating 4 people. It costs £3 a go and rotates for around 10 minutes. If you want to spend more than £3 and have a proper ‘Barry Island Experience’ you could enjoy a burger at the Piccolo Bar, fish and chips from O’Shea’s, crepes from Bay 5, a full breakfast from John’s café or a latte from Marco’s, not forgetting donuts from The Rock Shop on the way home. All for a lot less than what it costs for one go on the London Eye and arguably with better views and friendlier people. Oh, and I forgot to mention the official opening last weekend, which raised over £1,000 for local charities.
As far as I’m aware, the Danter family have never sought to specifically refer to their Ferris wheel as the ‘Barry Eye’, or pass it off as having any official affiliation to its London counterpart. Like most things in our town, the phrase ‘Barry Eye’ was borne out of our fantastic collective sense of humour and has been picked up by social media, politicians, mainstream press, residents and visitors alike. I’m not sure who coined ‘Barry Eye’ first, but it has entered our vocabulary now and as much as Merlin’s lawyers might try and stop its use, I’m not sure they will have much success and to do so would surely require us all to be arrested for thoughtcrime.
Maybe I am giving the general public too much credit but anyone with half a brain would be able to distinguish between what they might get from a trip to London and what they would get from a trip to Barry Island when deciding on a day out. I’m pretty sure Barrybados have not received an official letter from the Barbados Tourist Board yet, and last time I asked them, the GlastonBarry boys had not received a High Court summons from Michael Eavis. It’s time Merlin got off their high horse and concentrated on running their own business, not worrying about what goes on in our beautiful town. In any event, all they have served to do is bring attention to our wheel – as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Right, I’m off to get in the queue. #BarryEye