Fox and its 20th Century Fox TV studio have suffered a setback in its trademark legal dispute with the owner of a small chain of independent stand-up comedy clubs in the UK. Mark Tughan, whose Comic Enterprises owns four Glee Clubs, registered the trademark in 1999, and in 2011 he filed a lawsuit against Fox over musical dramedy Glee, claiming the name of the show infringes on his trademark, creating a confusion that his venues are somehow associated with the series. Earlier today, a British judge ruled in Tughan’s favor on the infringement and “tarnishment” issues while rejecting his claim of harm being caused to him by the Glee series, which airs in the UK on Sky Broadcasting, partly owned by Fox. While handing a victory to Tughan, the judge expressed an opinion rather than ordering actions such as an injunction banning the series from airing in the UK, something Tughan had sought. Fox will request an appeal, which, if granted, could drag on for as long as a year, during which time Glee would continue to air in the UK.
Glee‘s next season is slated to be its last, so the title issue could be moot for the show’s primary run given the length of the British appeal process, though it would affect Glee’s syndicated run in the country. If Fox loses the case, Glee could possibly be renamed in the UK. For now, the studio is not exploring such options, instead focusing on the legal battle. “We intend to appeal and are confident that, as the case plays out, we will ultimately prevail,” 20th TV said in a statement.”We remain committed to delivering Glee to all of its fans in the UK.” Three years in, the process, which started off as a nuisance-type case, has been costly for both sides, with more than $2 million in legal fees and no end in sight.