UK: ‘Glee’ could be banned after losing trademark ruling

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The hit TV show Glee could be banned in the UK, after the High Court ruled it violates a club owner’s trademark on the name.

Mark Tughan, owner of ‘The Glee Club’ comedy and music venues in Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Cardiff, argued that the Fox show was hurting his business, as customers were likely to assume that his clubs were associated with the show and avoid them.

He had registered the name ‘The Glee Club’ in 1999, ten years before the first episode of the TV show.

Tughan had been embroiled in a two-and-a-half year legal row with the US production company Fox, who produce the show.

Deputy Judge Roger Wyand QC last week found in his favour, and wrote: “I have found that there is a likelihood of confusion. Continued use cannot be in accordance with honest practices.”

The ruling, which Fox is likely to appeal, could mean the show will be unable to air in the UK.

It might also mean that associated DVDs, CDs and music downloads cannot be sold in the country, or that the show might have to rebrand entirely.

Mr Tughan said: “I had no desire to resort to such a David & Goliath legal action which could potentially result in depriving Glee fans in the UK of their favourite show, but the High Court has looked at the evidence and agreed that the programme makers have confused the public and damaged my business, brand and reputation for cutting edge comedy and music, over a period of more then 4 years so far.

“I tried to resolve this before it reached court, however Fox’s refusal to get round the table with me leaves matters in the hands of the judge.”

The musical TV show, which airs on Sky, is known for its diverse portrayal of LGBT characters, including gay couple Kurt and Blaine, lesbian singer Santana, and transgender diva Unique.

This season, US singer Demi Lovato joined the cast as Santana’s lesbian love interest alongside gay American Idol winner Adam Lambert, who joined as Kurt’s rival Elliot.

Glee is currently airing its fifth season, with a final sixth season planned.