Skip to content

There Will Always Be an England

The owner of a Birmingham (UK) comedy club named “Glee” has sued 20th Century Fox, producer of the television show “Glee” (now broadcast in England) for trademark infringement.

Apparently, he has a registration for “The Glee Club,” dating from 2001, or perhaps 1999, for entertainment services.  According to the local paper:

The 43-year-old claimed the hugely-successful series was damaging his brand and had contributed to two new branches in Oxford and Nottingham under-performing since they opened last September.

“People associate us with the show and I can’t be in that position as we couldn’t be more different,” he said.

Wikipedia says that the phrase “glee club” was first adopted for a performing choir in England, at Harrow, in 1787.  The first American collegiate glee club was founded at the University of Michigan in 1859. In context, the term “glee” itself is derived from a type of part song. All of which suggests that the term “glee,” for the kinds of choral performances showcased in “Glee,” may be generic.

But what of the pun?  The name of the show is partly a reference to the music and partly a reference to the emotion.  If there is consumer confusion here, is it based on the proposition that consumers look at a comedy club called “glee” and think that it is associated with a television program that is “glee”-ful – as in full of fun (or at least celebratory of difference), not just full of song?  Should that matter?

To the plaintiff:  Don’t Stop Believin’.