COMEDY club chain Glee has won a three-year legal battle against the TV show Glee in a move which could see it taken off the air in the UK.
The High Court ruled yesterday that Comic Enterprises Ltd, which runs four stand-up comedy clubs, including one in Oxford, has had its trademark infringed by Twentieth Century Fox’s hit programme.
The ruling means Birmingham-based Comic Enterprises could claim massive damages from Rupert Murdoch’s Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and it could also seek an injunction stopping Glee being broadcast in the UK.
Glee Club owner Mark Tughan said the popularity of the show had had a detrimental effect on his clubs, which are also in Birmingham, Nottingham and Cardiff.
He said: “Relief is probably the main thing I feel. It is not so much a celebration.
“It was a David versus Goliath case. If I lost I would have had a huge blow. I didn’t expect to lose.
“We suffered from confusion amongst the public.
“We also felt that having got a registered trademark, we were suffering illegally.”
The legal process has not yet finished.
On whether he will seek an injunction to stop the broadcast of Glee in the UK, Mr Tughan said: “Possibly, yes.
“Most certainly an injunction may be on the table but there are a few days and weeks for calm heads to prevail.
“It is for a judge to decide.”
He added: “They have definitely infringed on my rights. I didn’t want this battle.”
The firm was established in Birmingham in 1994.
His company registered The Glee Club trademark, including an image with the words in a spotlight, on June 19, 1999.
Glee was first aired in 2009.
Mr Tughan said: “Oxford and Nottingham opened in 2010, which was the year when Glee went global. I found myself in an interesting position. I had to spend a lot of time explaining not what I am but what I was not.”
He added: “I think the Oxford venue has been negatively affected. One of the key things is attending freshers fairs. We got sometimes hostile reactions from students.
“They took one look and would say ‘I am running a mile from that’.
“I am pleased to say it is making a good recovery. It is definitely a thriving, successful club.”
Judge Roger Wyand QC said: “The damage suffered by Comic Enterprises is caused by its venues being confused with the TV show and its potential customers being put off.
“There are obvious similarities between the mark and the (Glee) sign.”