Trademark Takeaways From UK's 'Glee' Ruling

April 06, 2016

The British Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court ruling of 2014 that Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.’s “Glee” television series infringed Comic Enterprises Ltd.’s trademark for “The Glee Club.” A parallel claim in the High Court for passing off failed. The Court of Appeal’s decision confirms that evidence of “wrong way round confusion” can be used in trademark cases, in this case being evidence from members of the public who knew of the “Glee” TV series and later saw or heard about Comic’s business and believed it to be connected with the TV series.

Comic operates live entertainment venues in some U.K. cities that predominantly consist of stand-up comedy and also some late-night live music. It opened its first venue in Birmingham in 1994 and has owned its trademark since 2001. Since 2009, Fox has produced the “Glee” TV series using the “Glee” sign, which has been hugely successful and has led to two world tours as well as DVDs, music sales and various merchandise.

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