Joe Lycett: Comedian changes his name to Hugo Boss

A UK comedian Hugo Boss, Formerly Joe Lycett has legally changed his name (by deed poll) to Hugo Boss today. Hugo Boss being a well known German fashion and perfume company. The company have recently taken to legal action to protect the name “Boss” suing a number of individuals and businesses to demand they stop using “Boss” in their name.

The comedian is clearly using this both as a protest and to gain some publicity.

Details from BBC news.

and from the Guardian

My understanding of copy-write law was that was only possible for related industries so for example the “Boss Brewing”, a craft brewery based in Swansea, would not be legitimate targets but I am not a legal expert and I guess the fashion house either think they have a case or smaller companies will fold under pressure.

Where I live I have two “McDonald’s” near by and next to eachother other on the same street. One is a car repair shop the other is the well known fast food restaurant. They seem to get on fine as nobody is going to mix them up.

Thoughts?

A big problem with trademark law is that, yes, people are allowed to use a name differently in different fields, but trademark holders (in most systems) are required to aggressively defend their trademarks to keep protection and there isn’t generally much of a penalty for frivolous lawsuits beyond paying the lawyers. So, a lot of companies will go overboard.

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