An antiques expert has won a David and Goliath battle with the BBC over the name of his business.

Corporation chiefs told Bob Vernon-Ward, 54, he had infringed on their trademark with his Vernon Ward Antique Roadshows after they spotted an article in The Argus in August.

The BBC has repeatedly written to Mr Vernon-Ward, of Sunnydale Avenue, Brighton, insisting the public would associate his business with the Antiques Roadshow programme and warning him to change the name.

But he instructed solicitors to tell the BBC he was refusing and the corporation has backed down.

Mr Vernon-Ward, who is married with two children, said: "I am delighted with the outcome. When I opened the first letter I was in shock.

"They were trying to bully me and I felt very threatened and intimidated initially. If I had not had sound advice my business and good professional name I have worked hard for nearly 20 years to achieve could have been crushed.

"It was a very stressful period of my life but I was determined because I had not done anything wrong. But it wasn't easy. It cost a few hundred pounds and if it wasn't for good friends helping me out financially I wouldn't have been able to fight them."

Mr Vernon-Ward - dubbed the Antiques Detective - registered the Vernon Ward Antique Roadshows trademark 16 years ago.

The BBC had sent letters twice before - in 1991 and in 1999.

The fine art expert decided enough was enough and instructed lawyers from NBR to fight back.

He said: "In 17 years no one has ever assumed I was connected with the BBC. I have my own good name and reputation to protect. I am now looking forward to the future and am optimistic about a possible venture with Granada Television."

Mitchell Willmott, a trademark agent for NBR Plc, said: "The BBC backed down. They were simply trying it on. The big companies like the BBC send out this type of bully boy letter knowing they have no chance of winning the matter if it goes to court.

"But they hope the little trader will be too scared to fight back and simply comply.

"As long as they don't make specific threats, what they are doing is legal and it doesn't cost them anything to send out a letter but it costs the clients a lot of sleepless nights."

The next Vernon-Ward Antique Roadshows are on December 14 and January 20 from 10am to 4pm at the Patcham Memorial Hall, Old London Road, Brighton.

A BBC spokeswoman said it was not the corporation's intention to cause Mr Vernon-Ward stress and there were never going to be any legal proceedings regarding this case.