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‘David v Goliath’ corporate name battles

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littergram

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The littergram website invites people to share photos of rubbish

Instagram has ordered the owner of a British anti-litter app to change its name from Littergram, but how have other “David v Goliath” corporate name battles panned out and does the big guy always win?

An app which helps people share pictures of litter and report it to their local council may not seem a threat.

But to one of the world’s largest corporations it was, with the US internet giant’s lawyers saying the name was “unacceptable”.

Trademark infringement cases are not new, so how have they been won or lost in the past?


Apple v Apple Corps

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PA/AP

Back when the iPhone and Macbook were a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, there was a bigger Apple.

Set up by The Beatles in 1968 to release their songs and manage their creative affairs, Apple Corps was the first.

The dispute dates back to 1980, when the George Harrison noticed an advert for a fledgling computer company in a magazine.

The sides reached a deal in 1981 allowing Apple to use the name as long as it stuck to computers, while The Beatles’ company would continue in the entertainment field.

With the advent of iTunes and the iPod this changed and battle recommenced.

A deal was finally struck in 2007 with Jobs’ Apple taking full control of the brand, licensing certain trademarks back to Apple Corps.


The Hobbit v Hungry Hobbit

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Film publicity

A popular sandwich bar in Birmingham faced the wrath of Hollywood with its choice of Hungry Hobbit as the name for its business.

The cafe chose the name in honour of the author who grew up in the Moseley area.

But in 2012 lawyers for the Saul Zaentz Company objected saying it was trademark infringement.

A campaign ensued with actor Stephen Fry voicing support for the eatery.

As of 2016 its name remains the same.


Little Mix v Rhythmix

Before Little Mix became chart sensations they were plain old Rhythmix- a group of X Factor contestants pushed together in the hope of forming a successful girl band.

Unfortunately for them, and X Factor, the name Rhythmix was already being used by a Brighton charity.

Simon Cowell’s show eventually caved in and a new name was sought.

The four girls were said to have come up with the name Little Mix themselves.


Glee v The Glee Club

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Getty/The Glee Club

A comedy club chain may be responsible for forcing one of the biggest TV hits of the past 10 years to change its name.

The owner of The Glee Club, Mark Tughan, took 20th Century Fox to court in 2014 arguing its TV show Glee breached its trademark rights.

He won his case. What’s more, he recently won an appeal.

However, 20th Century Fox said it is planning a fresh round of appeals.

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