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UK judge orders Fox to change name of hit TV show "Glee"

The hit television musical comedy “Glee” must change its name for use in the United Kingdom, a judge ruled recently. Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., the creator of the show, is expected to appeal the decision.

The ruling was the result of a court battle that has been underway since 2011, when a U.K. company filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming infringement of its copyright. That company, Comic Enterprises Ltd., says that the name of the TV series caused confusion due to its similarity to a chain of comedy clubs operated by Comic Enterprises, which go by the name of “Glee Club.”

Although the Glee case is unfolding overseas, the basic issues involved are similar to those seen right here in California whenever disagreements arise over the use of copyrights and other types of intellectual property.

When one party uses intellectual property such as a business name, a melody or a storyline that is overly similar to that of an existing work, it can interfere with the original owner’s right to determine how the work is used and to profit from it. When copyright infringement occurs, the copyright owner can ask a judge to issue an injunction against the other party to put an end to the infringement. Oftentimes, a judge will also order the infringing party to pay monetary damages to the rightful owner of the intellectual property.

In the Glee case, the judge issued an injunction against Fox that would require it to change the name of its TV show. However, the judge also issued a “stay” on the ruling, which means that the injunction will not be enforced until Fox has had a chance to appeal.

Source: Bloomberg, "Fox’s ‘Glee’ Turns Glum in U.K. as Judge Orders Name Change," Jeremy Hodges and Jessica Morris, July 18, 2014

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