High school musical comedy Glee could be forced to change its name when shown in the UK after a High Court ruling found it had breached the copyright of British comedy club chain The Glee Club, which has branches across the Midlands.
A judge found in favour of Comic Enterprises, the company owned by Mark Tughan which runs comedy and music venues called The Glee Club in Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Cardiff. The chain registered the name as a UK trademark in 1999, a decade before the TV show was created.
Tughan’s lawyers argued that potential customers stayed away from the clubs, mistakenly assuming that they were connected with the series, which follows the fortunes of teenage members of a musical performance group at an American school.
An action was brought against the shows’ makers Twentieth Century Fox in 2011 and in February this year they were ordered by a judge to “cease naming” the programme Glee. They challenged the decision claiming it was unnecessary and disproportionately costly but on Friday the ruling was upheld by the High Court.
British Glee fans shouldn’t expect to see any change to the show’s title for the moment, though, as the case will next go to the Appeal Court.
A spokesperson for Fox said: “We are pleased that the trial judge agreed to let the Appeal Court rule before ordering any relief that would adversely affect fans’ enjoyment of Glee in the UK. We look forward to the next stage of this case and remain confident in the merits of our argument.”
Five series of Glee have been broadcast in the US, with a sixth and final run to come. Sky1 is currently showing season four, while repeats of earlier series air on E4.