Faulty Towers – the Dining Experience VS FAWLTY TOWERS

Written by Margaret Briffa | July 22, 2016

Trade Marks

Fans of Faulty Towers will love this case from down under. The focus is whether an Australian Theatre company is infringing the intellectual property in ‘Faulty Towers’ concept which is owned by its creator John Cleese.

The Australian show “Faulty Towers – the Dining Experience” has been running for year in a number of countries including England’ There is no doubt that the Australian Show takes from the original – if it did not it would not be a show that would attract theatre goers. To avoid the claims of intellectual property infringement however the group says that the show is in fact a ‘tribute’ to the series.

Mr Cleese’s main claim is that the group is passing off the original show. In the UK he would need to show:

Goodwill – owned by Mr Cleese (or an entity controlled by him) in the series
Misrepresentation that the show originates with John Cleese when it does not and
Damages suffered – by Mr Cleese
Also it is likely that other countries with relevant common law will have very similar if not the same cause of action.

What might have helped Mr Cleese is if he had a relevant trade mark registered at the UKIPO or the EUIPO. However when we look we can see that a UK 2 067 258 for FAWLTY TOWERS has been registered since 1 April 1996 which covers a wide range of goods and services, such as “organisation, production and presentation of events for entertainment purpose”. However the problem for Mr Cleese is that the trade mark is actually owned by the BBC, not him. To conclude; based on the information available at this time, we can see that Mr Cleese will most likely have a difficult time in proving passing off, and he is rather unlikely to have other successful causes of action. If you find you are in need of IP legal advice or support, feel free to contact us INFO.

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