The Bach Centre

The Bach Centre

(Source: Judgement of the High Court of England, Chancery Division - Patents Court - 22nd May 1998)
After BachÂ’s death in 1936, the preparation of the flower remedies was continued by Nora Weeks and Victor Bullen. Until their respective deaths, Miss Weeks and Mr Bullen were the individuals primarily responsible for carrying on the work of Dr Bach from Mount Vernon which they in due course called 'The Bach Centre'. They made, marketed, and sold the Remedies.

These activities were carried on from Mount Vernon from April 1950 to March 1955, by Miss Weeks trading as 'Dr Edward Bach's team'. From April 1955, she continued doing so, in partnership with Mr Bullen. In 1958 they (and a Ms Thomas) formed the Dr Edward Bach Healing Trust ('the Trust') which acquired the freehold of Mount Vernon the same year. In 1974, Miss Weeks and Mr Bullen started trading as 'Dr Edward Bach's Centre'. Mr John Ramsell and his sister, Mrs Nickie Murray, joined the Bach Centre in 1971 and became trustees of the Trust in 1973.

Mr Bullen died in 1975 leaving his estate to Miss Weeks and, with effect from 1st April 1976, she traded as 'Dr Edward Bach's Centre' together with Mr Ramsell and Mrs Murray on the basis of a formal partnership agreement, whereunder the assets of 'The Dr Edward Bach Centre' belonged to the three of them in equal shares. Following the death of Miss Weeks in January 1978, Mr Ramsell and Mrs Murray carried on the business as surviving partners under the name of 'The Dr Edward Bach Centre'.

Since the early 1950's, the Bach Centre has published a quarterly newsletter ('the Newsletter'). Until about 1985, the Newsletter was called 'The Bach Remedy Newsletter - Flower Healing', and it always contained the heading: 'The simple and natural method of healings through the personality by means of wild flowers discovered by Edward Bach...'. From the inception of the Newsletter until her death, Miss Weeks was responsible for its publication. After about 1985, the style of the Newsletter was modernised, so that its title was shortened to 'The Bach Remedy Newsletter' and the heading I have quoted was replaced by the roundel device.

In 1983, the business and assets of 'The Dr Edward Bach Centre' were transferred by Mr Ramsell and Mrs Murray to a company, then known as Bach Flower Remedies Limited (not the respondent), which they owned in equal shares. In February 1989 a company called BFR (Mount Vernon) Ltd (also owned by Mr Ramsell and Miss Murray) was formed: it acquired all the shares in, and then all the assets and liabilities of, Bach Flower Remedies Ltd which thereafter ceased trading in April 1989.

In 1987, Mrs Murray departed from the Bach Centre to live in Crete, leaving Mr Ramsell and his daughter Judy Howard, effectively in charge of the Bach Centre. Sometime thereafter, Mrs Murray sold her shares in BFR (Mount Vernon) Limited to Mr Ramsell. At the present time, as Mr Ramsell has retired, Mrs Howard has control of the day to day activities of the Bach Centre at Mount Vernon.

From the 1930's, Nelsons and Keenes were supplied, initially by Dr Bach and later by his successors at Mount Vernon, with the tinctures, from which Nelsons and Keenes then made up and bottled the Remedies, which they sold from their own pharmacies. In the case of Nelsons, this arrangement appears to have continued until the mid-1970's, after which Nelsons continued as a contract manufacturer for the purpose of making the rescue Remedy in the form of a cream. In the case of Keenes the arrangement apparently ended when it ceased trading in the late 1960's. Accordingly, from 1940 (and earlier), the Remedies were made up (from tinctures prepared at Mount Vernon) and sold by those at Mount Vernon, by Nelsons (until 1975 or so) and by Keenes (until 1967).

In January 1991, BFR (Mount Vernon) Ltd entered into an exclusive arrangement with Nelsons, whereby Nelsons were to manufacture, package, market and distribute world-wide the Remedies prepared from tinctures made at Mount Vernon, under the names 'Bach' and 'Bach Flower Remedies'. This was apparently because the demand for the Remedies had become so great that the Bach Centre decided that it could not cope.

In 1993, Nelsons bought the business carried on at the Bach Centre for '4.3m, that business is now owned by a wholly owned subsidiary of Nelsons, Bach Centre Mount Vernon Limited, which is licensed to use the trade marks the subject of the instant applications. A new company, the respondent, was formed and its shares were sold by the Ramsell family to Nelson's: it is the current registered proprietor of the subject marks. The Bach Centre's principal present activities are making the tinctures for the Remedies, selling the Remedies in or from Mount Vernon, writing and distributing written and cassette material about the Remedies, organising and running educational programmes, providing free public advice and information on the Remedies, and maintaining Mount Vernon including artefacts which belonged to Dr Bach and historical records.

The increasingly commercial approach of those in Mount Vernon from 1979 onwards is perhaps mirrored by the dates on which the applications for the registered trade marks the subject of these proceedings were made. The first application was made on 24th February 1979 by Mr Ramsell trading as 'Dr Edward Bach Healing Centre' (and the benefit of it was subsequently assigned to Bach Flower Remedies Limited on 1st November 1984). The second application was made by Bach Flower Remedies Limited on 28th February 1984. The next four applications were made on 14th March 1989 by BFR (Mount Vernon) Limited, who also made the two most recent applications on 22nd April 1991.

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