A Suffolk-based radio station run by volunteers has been threatened with legal action by the "bully boy" owner of the largest commercial radio company in Europe.

A solicitor acting on behalf of Global Media and Entertainment, which runs the Capital and Heart FM networks among others, has sent a letter to Felixstowe's Fresh Gold Radio warning the use of the word 'Gold' in the station's logo and branding was an infringement of Global's registered trademarks.

In the letter, seen by the EADT, trainee solicitor Patrick Neall said Global was responsible for operating the Gold network of radio stations, which he described as "one of the UK's leading commercial radio brands, reaching over 1.8 million people on air every week".

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He said the company's Gold brand had been "promoted extensively via a range of media," but Fresh Gold's use of the name "in relation to identical goods and services" had the potential to confuse the public into thinking that Fresh Gold was associated with the Global Gold brand.

He added this had "the potential to cause damage to Global (if it has not already done so) and amounts to the common law tort of passing off".

The letter calls on Fresh Gold Radio to resolve the matter amicably "without the need for legal action" by ceasing to use the word Gold in any branding, strapline or logo as well as a trade mark or in a domain name.

East Anglian Daily Times: An example of Fresh Gold Radio's brandingAn example of Fresh Gold Radio's branding (Image: Newsquest)But the station's studio coordinator Barry Garnham accused Global Media, which had total assets worth £1.781bn in March 2020, of "bully boy tactics" and "high brow intimidation," stating in response that his station had no directors, shareholders or money.

Both Global Media and Mr Neall have been approached repeatedly for comment over the past week.

Mr Garnham told the EADT the station did not make any money through advertising, but had a couple of sponsors who provided "a few hundred pounds a year" to cover the cost of licences, insurance and running repairs.

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He said the station was more of a "hobby" and provided happiness and fulfilment for the presenters in much the same way as others may find joy by going fishing or playing golf.

Mr Garnham added he could not understand why legal action was being pursued now, when Fresh Gold had been operating since 2012 - initially broadcasting from the front room of his nephew's house.

He also provided a list of 21 radio stations, including Fresh Gold Radio, with 'Gold' in their names.

An online Google search by the EADT using the words 'Gold radio UK' found the link to Fresh Gold's website was listed 15th on the page, with the Global-owned Gold Radio's website appearing first.

The Fresh Gold station broadcasts online 24/7 and has presenters around the country, including the Isle of Wight, who record shows.

The focus is on hits from the 60s through to the 90s. Mr Garnham said there is no heavy metal or rap music on the playlist.

Most of the presenters have a connection to Felixstowe and Mr Garnham also provides mobile compering and DJing for Fresh Gold Radio in support of community events in the town, such as Remembrance Day events, carnivals and September's Love Felixstowe Festival to showcase the town.

"It is a small, locally-established radio station - not for profit - come and join the fun, look what we can do for you," Mr Garnham said.

He added pursuing Global's request for rebranding would be too expensive and that instead of paying out for legal action, Global should provide Fresh Gold with the money instead so it can carry out the rebranding.

"It is like a sledgehammer smashing a nut. It is like the big boys smashing a little one. I can't see what they can gain from this.

"If they could show me that they have suffered loss or we have nicked some advertisers then I would have some truck with it, but I can't see why that is?

"Given that we have been going since 2012, if it is that much of an issue, why have they waited until now?" Mr Garnham added.