THE owner of cafe business The Willow Tea Rooms has won a legal battle over the rights to its name.

Tea wars broke out following a dispute over the brand name for the tea room, which was previously housed in a building designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh that has been a Glasgow landmark for more than a century.

Last year Anne Mulhern, who has run the Willow Tea Rooms since 1983, said she was leaving its spiritual home in Sauchiehall Street to set up a new cafe at the Watt Brothers building.

The old site, designed by Mackintosh following a commission from Kate Cranston, is having a £10 million restoration after being bought by a group called the Willow Tea Rooms Trust.

Ms Mulhern, 60, moved as she did not want her business, which has an annual turnover of almost £1m, to be closed for two years while the renovation is carried out.

But after her move, officials from the Willow Tea Rooms Trust instructed lawyers to register a trademark called “The Willow Tea Rooms” for a new business at the building.

Ms Mulhern accused the trust of attempting to “hijack” the success of her tourist attraction and opposed the move.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), which rules on trademark disputes, has now found in her favour. Ms Mulhern gave evidence disputing the trust’s claims the building at Sauchiehall Street was known as “The Willow Team Rooms” before she started her business 33 years ago.

She said: “I understand why the trust wished to acquire the building at 217 Sauchiehall Street, given its connections with Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

“But there is no reason whatsoever for the trust to be allowed to hijack my trademark The Willow Tea Rooms to give the building a name, nor for it to allege that my trademark, which I have worked long and hard to develop, is somehow associated with the building that houses one branch of my Willow Tea Rooms and not my tea room business.”

Stewart Brown, a trustee of the Willow Tea Room Trust, told the IPO: “The building at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, has been known as The Willow Tea Rooms since Charles Rennie Mackintosh re-designed it in 1903.

“The goodwill in the name The Willow Tea Rooms is associated with the building itself and not the business carried on there.”

The IPO’s decision means Ms Mulhern can continue to use the name and the trust is banned from using it for services including cultural events and activities at the new building.

A spokesman for the trust, which has to pay Ms Mulhern £870 in costs, said: “We accept the decision but it will not stop the restoration and preservation of one of Glasgow’s most iconic and best loved buildings.

“We will look at other ways of promoting Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Willow Tea Rooms within the building.”

Ms Mulhern said: “After a lengthy legal process we are relieved and delighted about the result. At no point did we ever believe we would lose because The Willow Tea Rooms has been our brand since 1983 and is well known and much-loved throughout the city.

“Now we have secured our rights to the name, we can move on and continue to build our brand.”