UK Comedy 'Glee Club' Owner Sues Fox Over Trademark

A roundup of entertainment law news, including activity at the Supreme Court, a trial date in the big "Call of Duty" video game lawsuit, a celebrity mapmaker being sued, and more.
Adam Rose/FOX

Titling a television show Glee may sound generic, but Twentieth Century Fox is being brought to court for allegedly infringing the trademark of an Oxford comedy club named the "The Glee Club."

Mark Tughan, a former corporate finance analyst who owns a series of Glee Clubs in the UK, says he has filed a lawsuit in the country's Patents County Court.

Tughan registered a trademark on "The Glee Club" in 2001, and says he has been experiencing difficulty in opening up new comedy clubs with this title thanks to the hit Fox show, which airs on Sky Television in the UK.

“There is significant and mounting evidence that there is confusion in the minds of the public, that we are somehow associated with or connected to the TV show and that we might provide an entertainment experience of that nature," Tughan told the Oxford Mail.

Tughan also says that newer Glee Club branches are underperforming, which he blames on the TV show.

The trademark registration on "The Glee Club" reportedly covers entertainment services, including TV programs. Tughan adds that the show's typeface is similar to the one he uses for clubs.

Fox declined comment.

In other entertainment law news:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court is seeking the opinion of the solicitor general on whether to take a case that involves whether states can exempt cable television from sales taxes, but not satellite-TV services. The case is being pushed by DirecTV and Dish. Meanwhile, the high court will not be hearing an appeal by ASCAP over a ruling that downloads of sound recordings don't constitute a public performance of recorded music. Finally, the Supreme Court will be hearing a big copyright case involving taking works out of the public domain. We'll have more coverage of Golan v. Holder soon.
  • A judge has set a trial date of May 7, 2012 in the multimillion dollar fight over Activision's successful "Call of Duty" video game franchise. Jason West and Vincent Zampella, former heads of Activision subsidiary Infinity Ward, are alleging they were defrauded out of significant royalties  by being discharged shortly before payments were due. Activision claims that the two breached their contract and attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain.
  • Alta Vista Prod., producer of The Expendables, has settled a lawsuit with an insurer, St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company. In the dispute, Alta Vista attempted to recover money after having to put the film's shooting on a two-week hiatus when star Jason Statham had to undergo minor surgery to remove a growth in his throat. Terms of the settlement have not been revealed.
  • A woman who camps herself outside of the mansion where Michael Jackson died and sells maps directing tourists to celebrity homes is being sued by local homeowners who call her business "a highly visible eyesore." A hearing over a requested injunction has been set for October 18.
  • Melissa Joan Hart, former star of the TV shows, Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, is being sued by the manager of her cupcake shop entitled "Sweet Harts." The manager is an African American female who claims discrimination on Hart's part for making her work more than 60 hours without break, stiffing her on overtime, and according to the complaint, prohibiting her from wearing black clothes, "because 'black on black' did not look appropriate."