Multi-national internet giant Airbnb has threatened a fledgling Scottish company with legal action over its trademark for the firm, despite the small business arranging hosting for dogs and not humans.

Hairbnb is the brainchild of Allan Ritchie, a former RAF police dog handler. He is known to have sunk a large chunk of his savings into establishing Hairbnb which included gaining a trademark from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Ritchie was given a UK trademark registration no. 3287663 HAIRBNB in Class 43 – pet boarding and kennels – and according to the IPO’s website, the trademark came into effect in May last year.

When he applied for the trademark, intellectual property and legal offices across the country and beyond were told of Ritchie’s activities and had two months from February of last year to object.

Airbnb did not object and Ritchie duly set up his website which connects licensed dog sitters, boarders and walkers with people needing their pets looked after for a set period of time.

It was only in April this year that lawyers for Airbnb contacted Ritchie, according to one of his licensed sitters, retired journalist Graeme Murdoch of Peebles, and issued what is known as a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

Murdoch told The National: “Allan informed me of what might be happening and I was outraged.

“I’ve had eight dogs to stay with me and I’m booked out for July. For a giant multi-national corporation to threaten a small Scottish business like this makes me very angry.

“Airbnb have had a lot of bad publicity about their growth in Edinburgh, for instance, and this latest piece of imposition on a small business which is no rival to them is not showing them in a good light, especially since it took them so long to object.

“This is undue pressure and stress on a man who’s providing an excellent service.”

Ritchie says he has had legal advice not to talk to the press. The National understands that lawyers for Airbnb have given him until the end of the month to change the trademark.

The American-based company, which in 2017 boasted revenues of $2.7 billion, was started just 11 years ago in San Francisco after roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not afford the rent for their loft apartment in the Californian city.

They put an air mattress in their living room and turned it into a bed and breakfast and with help from investors and computer experts they rapidly built what is now a huge international business.

The National contacted Airbnb and specifically asked why their own intellectual property experts had not registered an objection within the two months legal timescale.

A spokesman for Airbnb said: “We want to work in partnership with companies to address these matters and hope to collaborate to resolve concerns amicably.”