BT accused of stealing Tech Will Save Us slogan from Start-up

BT Rebrand

BT has been accused of stealing the advertising slogan deployed in its rebranding from a start-up providing technology training to schoolchildren.

BT’s Beyond Limits campaign launched last month with the slogan “technology will save us” — part of a drive by new chief executive Philip Jansen to reposition the telecoms giant as an enabler of digital skills. It is BT’s biggest campaign in 20 years, according to ad giant Saatchi & Saatchi.

However, the name was familiar to the entrepreneurs Bethany Koby and Daniel Hirschmann, who launched a company called Tech Will Save Us in London seven years ago.

It provides make-it-yourself technology kits to children in 97 countries, with the aim of helping them learn to code and invent.

“It was either sloppy research by BT or it is ignoring its research,” said Koby, 41. “We are the first thing that comes up for that phrase in all search engines.”

Tech Will Save Us has trademarks for the name in Britain, the EU and America, but Koby said she could not afford to start legal proceedings.

“If we were a large organisation, we’d have different resources at our disposal to make different decisions about how far we want to take things like this,” she said.

“We have hundreds of thousands of kids expecting these experiences to be delivered to them for Christmas, and partners that are going to be facilitating these programmes in schools around the world.”

Koby contacted senior executives and board members at BT, but felt she had been “fobbed off”. She said: “They’re ignoring us because we’re small and insignificant.”

She said she would be willing to work with BT if the two could establish their motivations were the same. “We fully believe in that campaign because it’s what our business has stood for the past six years,” she said. “It’s not a vindictive thing.”

BT said: “We are already in the process of setting up a meeting with Bethany next week. Until we’ve spoken to her, it would be pre-emptive to say anything further.”