Legal battle over ‘Glee’ to be heard by the Supreme Court

The latest development in this ongoing and high-profile trade mark dispute will see the parties argue it out in the Supreme Court.

After Twentieth Century Fox suffered defeat in the Court of Appeal, a further appeal has been lodged meaning that the Supreme Court will hear the well-known trademark dispute over the use of the name ‘Glee’.

A chain of UK comedy clubs has held a registered trademark since 1999, containing the words ‘The Glee Club’ with the colours red, black and white as a component of the mark. Although many people may be likely to associate the word ‘Glee’ with the American TV series relating to a high school singing team, the trademark held by the comedy clubs was registered a decade before the TV series was first aired.

The Court of Appeal considered that a likelihood of confusion did exist between the comedy clubs registered mark and the American TV series use of the word ‘Glee’. Importantly, they also considered that despite the greater reputation the TV show had, the comedy club’s trade mark could be deemed broad enough to cover the use of ‘Glee’ by Twentieth Century Fox, the makers of the American TV show, and could therefore cause confusion.

Twentieth Century Fox have now appealed the decision and the Supreme Court will hear the on-going legal battle. However, the Supreme Court has allowed only one of the three grounds of appeal brought by Twentieth Century Fox, and they will therefore consider the appeal on the grounds of whether the UK trade mark is compatible with EU law.

Despite the case concerning the interpretation of EU law, the Court of Appeal decided there was no requirement for the case to be determined by the Court of Justice of the European Union at this stage. If the Supreme Court however, deems the interpretation of the CJEU necessary, this could result in serious delay to judgement on the case, particularly given the potential Brexit implications.