Bucks Fizz Trademark Dispute

In case you’ve never heard of ‘Bucks Fizz’ here they are on their way to Eurovision glory with their Eurovision song – Making Your Mind Up

Welcome to the 80s my friend!

Now, since then the group haven’t exactly been BFFs. I wont got through the tortured history here, but what’s important is that they ended up having a big fight about who owned the name ‘Bucks Fizz’ after there were, eh, a few lineup changes:

From Wikipedia:

There have been 16 members of the group since its formation in 1981. Bucks Fizz operated as a trio between 1990 and 1993.

  • Bobby G 1981–present
  • Mike Nolan 1981–1996
  • Cheryl Baker 1981–1993
  • Jay Aston 1981–1985
  • Shelley Preston 1985–1990
  • Heidi Manton 1994–present
  • Amanda Szwarc 1994–1996
  • David Van Day 1996–1997
  • Karen Logan 1996
  • Louise Hart 1996–2002
  • Graham Crisp 1997–2002
  • Nikki Winter 2003
  • Wayne Chinnery 2003–2006
  • Tammy Choat 2004–present
  • Paul Fordham 2006–2012
  • Paul Yates 2012–present

(Also Jenny Phillips – 2006 – covering Heidi Manton’s maternity leave)

The Original Bucks Fizz/Formerly of Bucks Fizz with Bobby McVay[edit]

  • Mike Nolan 2004–present
  • Cheryl Baker 2004–present
  • Shelley Preston 2004–2009
  • Jay Aston 2009–present
  • Stephen Fox 2014
  • Bobby McVay 2015-present

So, long story short, there are now two groups knocking around vying for the right to be known as Bucks Fizz:

  1. Bucks Fizz – Consisting of Bobby G and his missus, who owns the trademark to Bucks Fizz
  2. Formerly of Bucks Fizz (also ‘Ex Bucks Fizz, The Original Bucks Fizz and a couple of other names down through the years) – Consisting of original Bucks Fizz members Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston and (never in Bucks Fizz) Bobby McVay

Things came to a head in 2011 when everyone threatened to sue everyone (I’m paraphrasing)

The original three members (Formerly of Bucks Fizz) applied for a trademark for ‘The Original Bucks Fizz’. The owner of the ‘Bucks Fizz’ Trademark, Heidi Manton objected and the original three members also then applied to have the ‘Bucks Fizz’ trademark held by Heidi Manton revoked.

Everyone with me so far?

This is how the the original 3 members put it on their website (Click to Enlarge)

Buck Fizz Trademark Explainer Of Legal Issues Click To Enlarge

So that’s all fine, and everything is settled. You can see the original judgement of the UK Intellectual Property Office below.

BUT THEN, on Tuesday of this week (15 November 2016) the three original members of the lineup, namely Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston applied for a trademark for “The Fizz”

In the school playground in Ireland, this is the kind of carry on that would be greated with a chant of

A-G

A-G-R

A-G-R-O

AGRO!!

So, where does that leave us? Well, very likely with another hearing before the Intellectual Property Office in the UK….unless there’s been some reconciliation or agreement between the parties to allow the two brands to co-exist.

Section 5 of the Trade Mark Act 1996 says (basically) that you can’t register a trademark that is similar to an existing trademark for similar goods or services if there’s a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public, which includes the likelihood of association with the earlier mark.

So here, ‘The Fizz’ is similar to ‘Bucks Fizz’ and the application is for similar goods/services.

The question then becomes one of ‘likelihood of confusion’

That was key in the 2011 case as well

However, it will be interesting to see this time round of the original members put forward the argument (which I would like to see, to see if it works) that the likelihood of confusion is obviated by the publicity of the last case, firstly, and secondly, if this story picked up enough traction, whether they could argue that because of the press surrounding their attempts to register ‘The Fizz’ the less likelihood there is of confusion. So, for example, lets say hypothetically if all newspapers decided, even just out of divilment or boldness to give this story HUGE publicity, could Bobby G’s camp and the trademark owner Heidi Manton still maintain a claim for likelihood of confusion? I would argue not, but this is a fairly untested theory!

If I were Cheryl Baker, I’d be calling in every favour I could get to try and get as much publicity for this as possible, then arguing that there is no likelihood of confusion because it was so well publicised that everybody knew that ‘The Fizz’ were the original 3, and ‘Bucks Fizz’ was Bobby G and company.

It’ll be an interesting one either way

Watch this space:

The Fizz Trademark Application: (click to enlarge)

The Fizz Trademark Application Bucks Fizz

Bucks Fizz Trademark Details: (click to enlarge)

Bucks Fizz Trademark Application

Bucks Fizz Trademark Ruling 2011