Last month we noted that Harry and Meghan were bringing trade marks to the attention of the general public, with their SUSSEX ROYAL trade mark making headlines in the mainstream press.
We’re pleased to see that trade marks continue to be big news at the moment. So far this month, it’s a comedian who has captured the public imagination in a surprising way in connection with a trade mark dispute.
While filming an episode of the Channel 4 show “Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back”, the eponymous comedian became aware that Welsh craft brewery Boss Brewing had been sent a cease and desist letter by the German fashion house Hugo Boss.
On 1 March 2020, the comedian announced via a post on Twitter that he had legally changed his own name to Hugo Boss. A copy of a deed poll certificate that appeared to confirm the change of name was attached, bearing a particularly striking signature. The comedian’s Twitter account and Wikipedia entry both reflected the change of name.
Twitter basically exploded, articles about the change of name were published in the mainstream press and on 2 March the comedian was interviewed on the BBC’s “Victoria Derbyshire” programme. In response, the fashion house issued a statement welcoming “the comedian formerly known as Joe Lycett as a member of the Hugo Boss family.” The statement went on to explain that:
“as a “well-known” trademark (as opposed to a regular trademark), Hugo Boss enjoys increased protection not only against trademarks for similar goods, but also for dissimilar goods across all product categories for our brands and trademarks Boss and Boss Black and their associated visual appearance.”
The statement explained that after Boss Brewing had applied to register a trade mark similar to the fashion house’s own “well-known” mark, the fashion house had approached the brewery to prevent potential misunderstanding. It claimed that: “Both parties worked constructively to find a solution, which allows Boss Brewing the continued use of its name and all of its products, other than two beers (Boss Black and Boss Boss) where a slight change of the name was agreed upon.”
Short media articles about an entertaining action taken by a comedian are unlikely to be able to reflect the complexities of trade mark law. Owners of famous trade marks are well aware that there may be negative PR even when legitimately enforcing rights.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.