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9 March 2020 | Comment | Article by Richard Locke

Comedian Joe Lycett shows fashion giant who’s Boss

UK comedian, Joe Lycett, has announced that he has changed his name by deed poll to Hugo Boss in a stand against German clothing designer and fragrance brand, Hugo Boss, who has been sending cease and desist letters to small businesses and charities who are also using the word ‘Boss’ in their names. Joe tweeted the following:

“It’s clear that Hugo Boss HATES people using their name. Unfortunately for them this week I legally changed my name by deed poll and I am now officially known as Hugo Boss. All future statements from me are not from Joe Lycett but from Hugo Boss. Enjoy.”

The protest follows recent legal battles by the fashion house against companies such as Swansea-based brewery, Boss Brewing. Hugo Boss took action against Boss Brewing following their application to the Intellectual Property Office to register the names of two of its bestselling beers. The first was “Boss Black” being its champion beer of Wales and the other being “Boss Boss” one of its highest selling products in the supermarkets. The brewery was forced to pay almost £10,000 in legal fees and agreed to stop using the above names for its products. The clothing giant’s trademarks BOSS and HUGO BOSS cover various classes of goods and services including non-alcoholic drinks but not beer. Nevertheless, Hugo Boss was concerned that the names of the products would lead to “conflict and potential mis-understanding” by consumers.

While the response by Joe Lycett (or as he is now known, Mr Hugo Boss) could be seen as comedic, it does highlight the complexity of registering trademarks and although your mark might meet all the criteria, there may already a business out there using it which may give them a right to object to your application. If this is the case, you may end up going through an expensive and protracted dispute like Boss Brewing; getting the right advice at the right time is vital in making sure your IP assets are identified and protected,

A registered trademark is not only a valuable commercial asset but registration provides the owner with a statutory right to exclusive use of the mark in connection with the goods or services for which is registered. Therefore, thinking about trademark protection should be a key consideration for businesses. You do not want to invest into a brand to find out that the name you have chosen is infringing someone else’s rights or cannot be protected.

Our specialist IP team at can provide you with practical advice to help identify, develop, protect and manage intellectual property. If you require any advice on intellectual property issues then do not hesitate to contact us.

Author bio

Richard Locke


Richard is a Partner and an elected partner on the firm’s board of management.  He is also Group Head of the ever expanding dispute resolution team at Hugh James. He conducts major commercial disputes frequently with an international flavour including commercial claims, mining disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, professional negligence claims, contentious IT disputes, injunctive relief and insolvency.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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