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Insights - 05/08/2014

‘Glee’ case highlights importance of protecting your brand

A recent High Court decision has ruled in favour of a UK based comedy club who claimed that popular US teen TV show, ‘Glee’ breached their rights in their registered mark, ‘the Glee Club’.

Hollywood-based TV studio Twentieth Century Fox, the makers of Glee, failed to check the name ‘Glee’ against the UK Trademark Register. Had they done so, they would have quickly discovered that the mark had been registered by Comic Enterprises Limited, a company operating a chain of comedy clubs across the UK.

Fox has been ordered to change the name of the TV series as broadcast in the UK; a costly and complex process, and also to make an interim payment of £100,000 in damages, although this is subject to confirmation at a Court of Appeal hearing.

This case demonstrates the importance of checking the trademark register in each jurisdiction where you plan to launch a product to make sure that your brand or name is not already protected by someone else.  Damages awarded for trademark infringement can be incredibly high, and the costs and time involved in rebranding with a new mark can be very damaging to your business.  The case also shows how valuable trademark registrations can be: in this case allowing a small British company to block the use of its brand name by a Hollywood giant.

If you require advice on how to protect your brand, including how to register a mark abroad please contact our commercial team on 01737 854 500 or find out more here


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