Any other business

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Beware the postie

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Postman by day, “brand thief” by night, 43-year-old McDonald diligently scours the internet for announcements about firms changing names or planning takeovers, then rushes down to Companies House and claims the names for himself. Registration costs him a measley £20.

To avoid litigation, companies can end up handing McDonald as much as £100,000 to buy names back.

That’s a 99.9 per cent profit margin. The investors on Dragons’ Den would drool all over this man.

Blue-chippers BP, Shell and Taylor Wimpey have all been on McDonald’s hit list – but smaller companies have been targeted too. In 2006, McDonald bought the name “Ten Alps Publishing” – an offshoot of Bob Geldof’s media group.

Even Sir Bob, the all-round do-gooder, couldn’t hide his admiration for the rogue Postman: “Part of me is chuckling at his brass neck, but at the same time, if you were a small company, it would be an impediment.”

But it looks like McDonald’s lucrative side-line career is coming to an end. New laws that come into force in October will give firms the right to appeal if they can show that the main purpose of the person registering a name was to obtain money.

We reckon he should apply to the next series of The Apprentice. It’s not as if Sir Alan is a stickler for morals, after employing truth-dodger Lee McQueen.

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