UKSC to determine whether TV series infringed trademark in UK

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Appellant) v Comic Enterprises Ltd (Respondent)

The respondent operates a number of live entertainment venues in the UK used primarily for stand-up comedy, but also live and recorded music and nightclub and cabaret entertainment. It owns a UK-registered trade mark, which relates to a series of two device marks which included the words “the glee CLUB” and is registered in respect of variety of entertainment services.

In 2009 the appellant broadcast in the UK a successful musical comedy television series called Glee with associated concert tours and merchandise, using the sign “glee” in similar lettering to the Respondent’s mark.

The respondent brought trade mark infringement and passing off proceedings against the appellant.

The High Court found that the appellant’s activities infringed the respondent’s registered trade mark but the claim in passing off failed. The appellant appealed and the respondent cross-appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed both the appeal and cross-appeal.

The issues in this case are:

  1. Whether a finding of trade mark infringement breached Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
  2. Whether the UK’s statutory regime, which allows for a “series of marks” to be presented as a single trade mark registration, is compatible with the principle of clarity and precision of the trade marks register under EU law.
  3. Whether evidence of “wrong way round confusion” is relevant to the determination of a trade mark infringement.
  4. The appeal hearing will take place on 2 November

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