20th Century Fox could be forced to change the name of popular television series, Glee, in the UK after an Appeals Court loss against a British comedy club chain of the same name.
The media giant lost its first appeal against a 2014 High Court ruling on Monday, which alleged that 20th Century Fox had infringed the trademark of Comic Enterprises Ltd, who run Britain’s Glee Clubs.
Fox officials have said it would be a “disaster” if the network had to change the Glee name. The franchise is worth millions of dollars in worldwide tours, CDs and reality television competitions, and has sold more than 3 million songs in Britain alone since its launch in 2009.
However, High Court judges have ruled it “fair and equitable” to order Fox to stop using “Glee” as the UK title for the series, as Comic Enterprises Ltd have been running their Glee Comedy Clubs since 1994.
20th Century Fox has thus far been ordered to pay £100,000 on account of damages.
Deputy High Court judge, Roger Wyand QC, said: “I think that an injunction is necessary to protect the claimant’s (Comic Enterprises Ltd’s) intellectual property.
“Whilst it may well be true that the fan base for the programme will still think of the programme as ‘Glee’ they will be made aware of the fact that it cannot be called ‘Glee’ anymore because of the trade mark rights of the claimant.”
He said the re-titling should allow a reference to the programme “previously known as ‘Glee’.”
In its action, Fox quoted the Oxford English Dictionary to no avail, arguing that the term ‘glee club’ refers internationally to choral singing societies in general.
“We note the Court of Appeal’s decision and welcome its consideration of the outstanding issues,” a spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox Television said.
“We remain committed to proving the merits of our case and to delivering Glee to all of its fans in the UK”.
Both sides appealed but Lord Justice Kitchin, sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones, dismissed them both.
Lord Justice Kitchin revealed that the court fight was not yet over, as both sides intend to argue that the rulings are incompatible with European law.