'The Glee Club' wins copyright battle over hit TV show

'The Glee Club' comedy venue was registered as a UK trademark in 1999. Credit: SWNS

The smash hit US TV show 'Glee' may have to change its name in the UK after Twentieth Century Fox lost a David and Goliath legal battle with a British comedy business of the same name.

Mark Tughan, 45, launched High Court action against the TV corporation in September 2011 after he accused show bosses of stealing the name of his venue.

The entrepreneur registered the 'The Glee Club' name as a UK trademark in 1999 - 10 years before the hit musical show aired in Britain on Sky One.

He argued customers were being put off attending his clubs in Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Cardiff because they associated them with the teen musical drama.

Senior executives from Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV were flown in to contest the claims they breached copyright law saying they had no prior knowledge of the comedy clubs.

'The Glee Club' owner Mark Tughan said people associated his venues with the show. Credit: PA

High Court judges ruled in Mr Tughan's favour in July 2014 but Fox appealed the decision.

Lawyers representing the multi-award winning show argued rebranding it in the UK could have "catastrophic consequences" for the company as it would cost millions.

But the company lost their fresh legal battle at the London Court of Appeal meaning the Glee TV series may have to be renamed for UK audiences.

The decision was welcomed by Mr Tughan who runs the comedy clubs through Comic Enterprises Ltd (CEL), which may now seek a percentage of profits from the TV series.

It is a great relief that the court has upheld the earlier judgement. We hope that this bring us closure to the end of this whole saga.

'The Glee Club' owner Mark Tughan
Fox argued that rebranding the show 'Glee' in the UK would cost millions of pounds. Credit: HT/ABACA USA/PA Images

However, the court battle may not be over as both sides have suggested they could take their case to the European Court.

In a statement, Twentieth Century Fox Television said: “We note the court of appeal’s decision and welcome its consideration of the outstanding issues. We remain committed to proving the merits of our case and to delivering Glee to all of its fans in the UK.”