Kerry Krahn, owner of the Wellington Social House downtown Chilliwack, is looking to his customers for a new name following a cease and desist letter from the competition. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

B.C. restaurant caught in dispute over franchise’s trademarked ‘socialhouse’ name

Browns Socialhouse says its trademarked the name, demanding a Chilliwack business make changes

When Kerry and Claudette Krahn took over an iconic, cornerstone business of downtown Chilliwack, they wanted a name to fit their laid back style.

They came up with Wellington Social House, a fitting name with a nod to the historic street they’re on, and the inviting atmosphere they’re known to create inside the restaurants they’ve owned. So they ordered their sign, menus, business cards, and got on with taking over the popular eatery, attached to the Royal Hotel. They also run the Royal’s cafe.

Business took off instantly, and their musical friends are delighted to have a new venue to call home. But it didn’t take long for the bad news to arrive. The Krahns received a registered letter in the mail from Browns Socialhouse back in mid-November, informing them that the term ‘socialhouse’ is copyrighted and they were in violation of a trademark.

They had to agree to cease and desist.

The Krahns had never imagined that such common words would be copyrighted, and they aren’t alone. Browns has had at least one other restaurant change their name. In 2013, a Prince George barbecue restaurant received the same letter, and agreed to drop the “social house” part of the name. Bruce Fox, executive VP with the Browns Restaurant Group says they don’t discuss individual circumstances, but with more than 60 restaurants across western Canada, their obligation is to franchise owners who pay a licencing fee to use the trademarks.

“Often they are mis-informed about trademark rules and have no idea it is protected,” he says of independent restaurateurs. “Once they discover how things work they voluntarily find a new name to do business under.”

And that’s what the Krahns have decided to do. But they want to have a little fun with it. After all, that’s what they’re all about. They’ve decided to launch a Facebook contest, starting Friday, Jan. 26. They want their customers to help them come up with a great name. A name that suits the business, the building, the atmosphere, the whole thing.

“We liked the idea of ‘social house’ and what it represents,” Krahn says. “We don’t want it to be a bar. It’s a gathering place and we’ve really accomplished that. It has that kind of feel.”

They’ve had great music nights, with world-class jazz music by Cory Weeds, piano nights with Trevor McDonald, and Friday night live music, too. Soon, they’ll have Classic Sounds coming in Saturday afternoons spinning vinyl while the kitchen serves up hearty slices of pizza.

Krahn is a musician himself, and jumps in to play on Friday nights here and there. He is also a big supporter of local businesses, partnering with the likes of Smits and Co.w, Produce Gone Wild, Johnston’s Pork, and Fraser Valley Duck and Goose, as well as Old Yale Brewing.

To help christen the Wellington Social House with a new name, visit them on their Facebook page on their current name.

Just Posted

Suspect who died at Nanaimo ferry terminal shot himself at the same time police fired

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Eighty-eight year old woman keeps shaving her head for Tour de Rock

NANAIMO - Senior parts with hair to raise $10,000 for Cops for Cancer

OPINION: Nanaimo not only voted, but voted with purpose

Nanaimo’s civic leadership will see the change that so many wanted

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire along Millstone

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

ELECTION DAY: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

Hemmens, Armstrong, Geselbracht, Brown, Turley, Bonner, Thorpe and Maartman elected as councillors

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Category 5 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm’s centre

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

Okanagan parachute accident kills American

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

The online auction features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, with the sale scheduled for 31 October and 8 November.

Most Read