Planning disputes don’t often lead to the host of Match of the Day tweeting their outrage. However, the ongoing saga between Southwark Council and Meadow Residential LLP (“Meadow”), has drawn the ire of Gary Lineker and other prominent figures in the football world. At the centre of the dispute is non-league Dulwich Hamlets FC (“DHFC”). Meadow purchased the land on which DHFC’s Champion Hill ground is built but have been denied planning permission to construct a residential development by Southwark Council.
Meadow has since taken a number of steps, which the leader of Southwark Council believes to be aimed at bringing the local authority back to the negotiating table. Lawyers for Greendales IP LLC (a subsidiary of Meadow) recently sent a letter to the club stating that Greendales was now the holder of registered trade marks in “Dulwich Hamlet Football Club”, “The Hamlet” and “DHFC” (the “Trade Marks”). Lawyers for Greendales went on to state that Greendales required that the Trade Marks “no longer be used on any printed literature and any online activity including websites and twitter”. Greendales also required confirmation that references to all Trade Marks “will be removed, failing which further action will be taken to protect [Greendales’] position.”
The consequences of Greendales’ purported prohibition on the use of the Trade Marks by DHFC are more insidious than the simple deprivation of a right to use three trade marks. The name of a football club is much more than just a commercial brand to its supporters. Each club’s history, indeed its very identity, is inherently tied to its name. The names of clubs are inscribed on trophies and the record books denote every promotion, every relegation and every result by reference to clubs’ names. Fans of DHFC sing the club’s name from the terraces as they have since the club’s foundation in 1893. It is in this context that Greendales sought to register the Trade Marks. Continue Reading