Chief executive of contractor admits in court that he expected rebranding would lead to rift
The chief executive of Alfred McAlpine admitted in court that he had expected Sir Robert McAlpine to be incensed by his decision to adopt the brand name "McAlpine".

Under cross-examination in the High Court last Friday, Ian Grice (pictured) said: "We expected the family would be upset and make a fuss and try to stop us."

But Simon Thorley QC, counsel for the defendant, said on Wednesday: "We are being accused of being dirty dogs because we registered the trademark. They can object and say it's invalid if that's what they want to do, but to sit there and throw their toys out of the pram and say it's not fair does not add any weight to their case."

Grice acknowledged that the firm had kept the plan a secret to maximise its impact. He said that it had decided against holding an extraordinary general meeting last year in order to keep the move under wraps.

However, Garry Forster, company secretary at Alfred McAlpine, told the court that although it had registered the name McAlpine, it was willing to share the trademark with Sir Robert. When Mr Justice Mann asked him if it would be for free, he replied "for a nominal sum". Neither firm had previously registered their name as a trademark.

Sir Robert McAlpine is seeking an injunction to stop Alfred McAlpine rebranding its support services operation as "McAlpine".

The two companies sprang from the same family business but have not had any connection for eight years. Sir Robert McAlpine claims that Alfred is trying to claim more than its fair share of the joint goodwill in the name. It alleges that by misrepresenting itself, the group could damage Sir Robert McAlpine's reputation.

Counsel for Sir Robert likened it to Prince’s rebranding, saying the defendant would be dubbed ‘the company formerly know as Alfred McAlpine’

Roger Wyand QC, summing up for Sir Robert McAlpine, urged the judge to serve an injunction against Alfred as the six-day hearing came to a close on Tuesday. Wyand said: "Unless the defendant is prevented from putting itself forward to the world as McAlpine we are going to suffer damage."

Likening the rebranding to that of pop star Prince, Wyand said that the defendant would have to be renamed "the company formerly known as Alfred McAlpine".

The court heard that Alfred first considered rebranding as early as 1999.

Forster told the court that the McAlpine name, with its purple logo, was enough to differentiate between the firms. "Our advisers went through 42,000 ellipses to find one that was distinctive," he said.