Only one 'snakeman'

Northern Rivers snakeman George Ellis finds himself embroiled in a battle over the use of the word ‘snakeman’ from Victorian businessman Raymond Hoser who claims he has a trademark on the word.
Northern Rivers snakeman George Ellis finds himself embroiled in a battle over the use of the word ‘snakeman’ from Victorian businessman Raymond Hoser who claims he has a trademark on the word. Jay Cronan

IT'S THE war of the snakemen and it looks likely to get very slippery indeed.

On one side, George "the snakeman" Ellis, who has been removing snakes from Northern Rivers properties for nearly a decade-and-a-half.

On the other, Victorian businessman Raymond Hoser who says he has a trademark on the word "snakeman" and that Ellis must come up with a new nickname.

"I am the snakeman and have been for more than 40 years," Mr Hoser told The Northern Star.

"I'm extremely well known. I'm everywhere."

The reptile world was too small for Mr Ellis not to know that the "snakeman" name was already in use, he said, asking that he desist and find another nickname.

He said he was not trying to prevent Mr Ellis from helping Northern Rivers residents with their snake problems.

"We're not trying to stop him dealing with snakes. He just can't use the word 'snakeman'.

"We want him to do what he does without affecting us."

Mr Ellis, in return, was a little mystified by Mr Hoser's request and certainly not to be put off his snake-catching passion by this war of words.

He has always operated under the name "George the snakeman", he said, and he believed there was a distinction between his name and Mr Hoser's trademark.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about."

"The difference is I don't trade. I'm a volunteer. I don't charge," he said.

Last week, the Northern Star was asked by Mr Hoser to remove any references to Mr Ellis as "the Snakeman" in articles on the Star's website.

This followed a story the paper ran about the upcoming snake season and featured Mr Ellis.

Mr Hoser said the online references to Mr Ellis as "the snakeman" were having negative consequences for his business.

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