A British ukulele orchestra has lost a High Court duel with a German rival which uses an English name.
The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain failed to persuade a judge that its reputation could be unfairly tarnished by the appearance of the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra - which is based in Germany but made up of British musicians.
Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain bosses claimed that their German rival - who will be playing at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax on October 16 - was infringing name trademark rights.
They took action weeks before the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra was due to start its first British tour and asked for an injunction preventing its rival from using the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra name pending any trial.
United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra bosses dispute the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain’s trademark infringement claims.
And they said any injunction could unfairly force the cancellation of the forthcoming tour - due to start in Lincoln on October 15 - and cost them tens of thousands of pounds.
Judge Richard Hacon refused to grant the injunction after lawyers representing the rival orchestras traded licks at a hearing in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court - which is part of the High Court - in London.
He ruled in favour the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra and said the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain should have acted sooner.
The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain’s trademark infringement claims could be fully argued at a trial later this year or next year - although no date has been fixed.
Peter Moss, musical director of the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra, welcomed Judge Hacon’s decision.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Mr Moss after the hearing. “Our view has always been that we never, ever wanted to have competition with the other side ... We wish them well.”
He added: “We hope people will now come to see us play.”
Judge Hacon said the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain had been performing for more than 25 years. He said members dressed like a traditional orchestra, sang and told jokes.
He said the orchestra had released records, appeared on television and performed more than 1,000 times in the UK and abroad.
Members of the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra were from the UK but based in Germany, he said.
Orchestra members performed in English and had a “certain English humour” which was aimed at the continental market and Germany in particular.
He said the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain claimed infringement of its name trademark.
Bosses had applied for an injunction before the start of the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra’s first British tour.
The judge was told that the seven-date tour, which will take in Lincoln, Halifax, Rhyl, Malvern, Chesterfield, Lowestoft and Eastbourne, was scheduled to start on October 15.
And he said the competing claims of each orchestra were finely balanced.
But the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra had complained that it had been performing for some years and said the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain could and should have complained sooner.
And the judge agreed.
He refused to make an injunction and said: “If the claimants’ need for relief were as urgent as they say, action would have been taken earlier.”