Statement: We won't be held to ransom - our airport's name will change

“The people of the Tees Valley will not be held to ransom by a profiteering opportunist. One way or another, we will change our airport’s name back to Teesside International.” – Mayor Ben Houchen

In December last year, over 15,000 people voted in an online poll to decide whether to change our airport’s name back to Teesside International. As I said at the time: if the people are going to own our airport, then the people should decide what it should be called. An overwhelming majority asked me to change our airport’s name, and I will.

People have asked why we didn’t opt for simply ‘Teesside Airport’. That’s because the rights were acquired by a gentleman who lives in Stockton-on-Tees called Christopher Joseph. Since September 2017, Mr Joseph has tried to sell the rights to ‘Teesside Airport’ for an extortionate fee of £250,000 - with a condition that he will double the price every six months until I cave in.

I will never, ever agree to Mr Joseph’s preposterous terms. I will not allow the people of the Tees Valley to be held to ransom by a profiteering opportunist. My one and only priority is to make our airport a success by giving it a brand that is known world-over, while Mr Joseph is more concerned with making a cheap buck at taxpayers’ expense.

However I can today confirm that we have lodged an application to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to register the ‘Teesside International Airport’ trademark - which Mr Joseph does not own. 

We believe, however, that Mr Joseph will formally contest our application on the basis that it sounds similar to his trademark, 'Teesside Airport'. If he does, then we would need to formally contest his trademark of ‘Teesside Airport’ in turn. We would need to do this to ensure Mr Joseph cannot unfairly block our plan to change the airport’s name.

Having sought extensive legal advice, I believe Mr Joseph is acting in bad faith and that our application to invalidate his rights to ‘Teesside Airport’ will be ultimately successful. This is not an expensive process - a fraction of the £250,000 minimum that has been demanded - but it will take time. 

Mr Joseph has no genuine intention to use ‘Teesside Airport’ other than to sell it on for profit. I will not agree to his terms, and I believe the people of the Tees Valley wouldn’t want me to either.

One way or another, our airport’s name will change and Mr Joseph will not succeed.