MARTIAL artists were stunned to receive a bizarre legal letter claiming their monthly magazine could be mixed up with a national broadsheet newspaper.
The group behind publication Martial Arts Guardian, which includes Astley jujitsu instructor Russ Jarmesty and karate teacher Simon Keegan who was brought up in Appley Bridge, were amazed when lawyers representing The Guardian newspaper ordered them to change the magazine’s name.
The letter, from City firm Olswang, said the newspaper was opposing the magazine’s attempt to register its name as a trademark as it was “similar to The Guardian” and “it is inevitable that consumers will be confused”.
Russ, who runs JMA Academy in Atherton, said the group found it incredible people could mix up their A4 digital magazine, which they founded to highlight unsung heroes of the martial arts scene, with the newspaper famed for its global reporting and left-wing perspective.
The letter also appears to ignore the existence of dozens of local newspapers which feature Guardian in its name, including the Chorley Guardian, and which on the face of it would seem to have more in common with the national paper than a martial arts periodical.
Russ, 39, said: “The letter was definitely a shock. It’s nice to be noticed by them but I’ve been looking into it and there’s lots of things called Guardian.
“Lots of newspapers have it, whereas we’re a free online magazine with no sales. It’s just completely different.
“It’s got no relevance to the newspaper whatsoever and to be honest I’d have thought they had better things to do. It just seems like bully-boy stuff.”
Russ says he and the other enthusiasts behind Martial Arts Guardian, karate instructor Simon who is now based in Manchester and Scott Caldwell, an Isle of Man-based tutor in Israeli art Krav Maga, will not be defeated by the strange legal spat.
The trio have withdrawn the trademark application and are currently considering their options, with Russ saying it is most likely they will simply change the name of their digital magazine.
Martial Arts Guardian is about to print its fifth edition and has grown rapidly, gaining between 30,000 and 50,000 online viewers, since the founders decided to combat their frustration at low-quality writing about their sport by producing something themselves.
Russ said: “We just thought there was a lot of poor-quality stuff out there and there was a gap in the market for good information with some video tutorials embedded in it, and so far we’ve done really well.
“We’re in talks at the moment to see what the best thing to do is. I’d quite like to fight it but I think we will probably just end up changing the name.
“Either way we’re not stopping. We might change it to We Are Not The Guardians.”
For more information about the magazine, visit www.martialartsguardian.com/