Michael Demtschuk did everything by the book when he set up his business in Namibia in 1998. It’s just as well: he could not have known it at the time, but he was headed for a David-and-Goliath showdown over his company’s name. Demtschuk checked with the registrar of companies and found that no-one else had registered the name he wanted: Rentokil Namibian Pest Control Services. He even consulted the telephone directory, where he found an entry for "Rent-O-Kill" — but when he called the number he was told the business had gone under and that he could use the name if he liked. However, three years later, lawyers acting for Rentokil Initial 1927 Plc in Namibia and SA wrote to him. Their client was, they said, the biggest pest control contractor "in numerous countries". Demtschuk was using its name without "authority or consent", and he had to stop using the name "Rentokil Namibia" or face legal action. For the next 13 years Demtschuk heard nothing further and went on as before. Then Re...

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