Feuding ukulele bands battle it out in court
The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain (UOGB) has won a High Court ruling against a rival group which it accused of trading off its reputation.
The group challenged the German-based United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra (UKUO) over the similarity in name.
It argued the German group had copied its format and fans were getting confused between the two.
The judge agreed and said its "passing off" claim had succeeded.
The legal battle kicked off last September when the UOGB filed a claim for trademark infringement as the UKUO was preparing for its first tour of the UK.
In his initial ruling, Judge Richard Halcon sided with the German group, agreeing that it was not in competition and adding the British group should have mounted a legal challenge earlier.
Made up of British musicians, the UKUO was founded in 2009, while the UOGB has been going since 1985.
But in his ruling on Thursday, Judge Halcon said he was satisfied "the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra' misrepresents to a substantial proportion of the public in this country who recognise the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain' as the trade name of a particular musical group".
He added: "I am also satisfied that this has caused damage to the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain's goodwill, particularly by way of loss of control over the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain's reputation as performers."
The case was brought by the founder of the UOGB, George Hinchliffe, who told the court he was approached in 2009 by a German producer who wanted to franchise the band in Germany.
The request was turned down, but Erwin Clausen, director of Yellow Promotions, set up the United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra, promoting a similar style of musical comedy.
Mr Hinchliffe said: "We have worked hard for 30 years to create a unique show and the court has now recognised that copycat musical performances cannot trade off the reputation of established groups."
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has performed in many venues worldwide, including New York's Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House and London's Royal Albert Hall.
It has also released eight studio albums and performed at music festivals including Glastonbury.
Mr Hinchliffe added: "We have an international and celebrity fan base who have stood by us and who will be very pleased."