The business of protection: Bass & Co. and trade mark defence, c. 1870–1914

Higgins, D.M. and Verma, S. (2009). The business of protection: Bass & Co. and trade mark defence, c. 1870–1914. Accounting, Business and Financial History, 19(1) pp. 1–19.



This article uses a case study of Bass to examine the business and accounting history of trade mark defence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We employ a variety of business, legal and parliamentary records to discuss the measures they adopted to prevent trade mark infringement. The central arguments of this article are that Bass’s trade marks were susceptible to infringement because of weaknesses in its business structure, and these, in turn, necessitated a robust defence of its trade marks both before and after the Trade Marks Act, 1875. Of particular interest, we demonstrate that Bass’s reliance on the free trade was financially successful, in marked contrast to the predictions of Chandler, and the financial performance of the big London brewers who relied heavily on tied estates.

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