Television smash Glee might be forced to change its title after losing a David and Goliath court appeal with a British comedy club of the same name.
The Glee Club’s owner Mark Tughan, 45, filed a pricey lawsuit against the US musical comedy in 2011, claiming customers were put off attending his clubs because they didn’t want to be associated with the teen musical series.
He argued: “The similarity of the names and branding in the same field of entertainment services has led to us losing custom and hampered our ability to establish our brand of cutting edge live comedy.”
The court ruled in 2014 that 20th Century Fox had breached Oxford-based The Glee Club’s 1999 trademark rights with its broadcast of Glee in the UK.
But Deputy High Court Judge Roger Wyand confirmed the order for Fox to rename Glee would only come into effect once the Court of Appeal backed his judgement.
Fox launched an appeal but lost on Monday, with Lord Justice Kitchen finding that “there exists a likelihood of confusion”.
Lawyers representing the multi-award winning show argued rebranding it in the UK could have “catastrophic consequences” for the company.
They said a ruling against them would affect repeats, future performances of the spin-off stage show, DVD and CD sales, as well as digital downloads.
Mark however said he was hugely relieved by the ruling.
He added: “It has been going on for years and it really is a David versus Goliath situation. I cannot tell you how much it means to us. But the great thing about this is it proves that little companies can stand up for their rights.”
Fox’s lawyers have confirmed the company will continue to appeal against having to rebrand.
The case could be referred to the European Court for another judgement and a decision over whether it will be transferred is expected in the next few months.
Fox insisted it had no prior knowledge of The Glee Club and will not be renaming Glee until it has exhausted all appeals processes available.