Detailed scrutiny of publicly available documents, presented below, reveals a surprising new side to Roadtrip, raising questions about who stands to benefit the most from this controversial campaign method.
Companies House records reveal that Mark Clarke is, or has been, a Director of at least 3 registered companies. The Trade Union Reform Campaign (Company No. 07890557) was incorporated in December 2011, to “campaign for reform of the laws and funding arrangements relating to trade unions”. The company was dissolved in February 2015. In a joint venture with Matthew Richardson, Mr Clarke created the Transatlantic Educational Alliance Limited in June of this year (Company No. 09628207). The purpose of this company is unclear. The other business is that of CampaignUK Limited (Company No. 09314216), created with Mark as the sole director on the 17th November, 2014.
On the same day that CampaignUK was incorporated, the company filed the necessary documentation to trade mark the term ‘Roadtrip’ for the purposes of political advertising, opinion polling, and canvassing (Trade Mark UK00003081802). The trade mark entered the official register on the 13th March, 2015. This was followed on 15th June, just a few weeks after the General Election, with the filing for the trade mark of ‘Roadtrip2020’, which was granted on 18th September, 2015 (Trade Mark UK00003113297).
It is important to note that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to trademark Roadtrip. Putting aside whether you think it is effective or not, Roadtrip may be a brand that should be protected. But if this is true, surely this should be done by the Party itself – the Conservatives name and logo is trade marked by C&UCO Services Limited, a company registered to Conservative HQ. Shouldn’t Roadtrip be held in the trust of our Party, for the benefit of every activist and campaigner? I feel deeply uncomfortable about having hundreds of volunteers giving up their free time for the good of the Party, when the brand they campaign under is completely controlled by a private individual, and one I don't have a great deal of confidence in anyway.
I can’t think of a reason why someone with the best interests of the Party would seize the rights to the Roadtrip name for themselves. Can you? We can’t allow for one moment, the possibility that our volunteers will be questioning whether to attend campaign events because organisations other than our Party may be benefiting from their time. The methods we choose to encourage our activists in the run-up to 2020 must be more open – nothing less than next Government of this country is at stake.