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Fox's 'Glee' in Peril in the UK After Trademark Ruling

A judge finds that the show infringes upon the "Glee" marks of a comedy club owner.

Glee' (2010-2013)
Justin Lubin/FOX

Twentieth Century Fox suffered a low note on Friday when a high court judge in the United Kingdom ruled that the studio was infringing upon the trademark rights of an Oxford comedy club named the "The Glee Club."

Mark Tughan, whose Comic Enterprises owns the club among a series of such Glee Clubs in the UK, has held a registered trademark since 2001, and in a lawsuit brought in a patent court in late 2011, alleged that Fox's high school singing show had caused harm and made it difficult to open up new Glee Clubs.

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Deputy high court judge Roger Wyand has ruled there is indeed a likelihood of confusion and that Fox's use is causing dilution and tarnishing of the "Glee Club" mark. Additionally, according to local news reports, the judge wrote, "Continued use in such circumstances cannot be in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters."

No injunction has yet been issued, and there's an open question about the next steps. A spokesperson for Fox put out a statement promising an appeal and expressing confidence in ultimately prevailing.

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The plaintiff's company put out its own word after the ruling saying that "the TV show could now be taken off air in the UK, Glee merchandise and DVDs removed from UK shops and music downloads halted."

Glee is currently being aired on British Sky Broadcasting, which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch's Fox.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner