Joe Lycett has changed his name. The comic will now be known as Hugo Boss.
He announced on Twitter this afternoon that he has made a formal legal filing by deed poll to change his name, as part of an investigation highlighting seemingly abusive legal practices of the German fashion house.
Hugo Boss, founded in 1924, substantially grew its business through the manufacture of uniforms for the Nazi Party, and later for various arms of the Nazi military machine, including the Waffen-SS, throughout the Second World War. It also used forced labour in its factory.
As part of the upcoming second series of his comic consumer rights series Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, stand-up Lycett/Boss is now exposing modern day practices the fashion company is engaging in through legal processes.
Lycett - who has also changed his Twitter display name to Hugo Boss - posted on the social media platform: "So @HUGOBOSS (who turnover approx $2.7 billion a year) have sent cease & desist letters to a number of small businesses & charities who use the word 'BOSS' or similar, including a small brewery in Swansea costing them thousands in legal fees and rebranding.
"It's clear that @HUGOBOSS HATES people using their name. Unfortunately for them this week I legally changed my name by deed poll and I am now officially known as Hugo Boss. All future statements from me are not from Joe Lycett but from Hugo Boss. Enjoy."
Hugo Boss's new signature is formed of a "cock and balls" doodle.
Registering a trademark - typically a brand name or phrase - means that the registering organisation can protect its usage by unauthorised third parties, ostensibly to avoid confusion amongst the public and stop misleading implications of association, involvement, approval or other link between the trademark holder and the third party.
Details of the exact cases of fashion company Hugo Boss enforcing its naming rights will be revealed when Joe Lycett's Got Your Back Series 2 airs on Channel 4, expected later in the Spring, but Lycett/Boss's tweets imply that it has been aggressively pursuing businesses with various forms of 'Boss' and similar phraseology in their branding, pushing trademark law to its limit in 'protecting' their registered mark, rather than acting in the spirit of the laws to protect their own reputation from abuse.
"As he will know, as a 'well-known' trademark (as opposed to a 'regular' trademark) Hugo Boss enjoys increased protection not only against trademarks for similar goods, but also for dissimilar goods across all product categories for our brands and trademarks Boss and Boss Black and their associated visual appearance.
"Following the application by Boss Brewing to register a trademark similar to our 'well-known' trademark, we approached them to prevent potential misunderstanding regarding the brands Boss and Boss Black, which were being used to market beer and items of clothing.
"Both parties worked constructively to find a solution, which allows Boss Brewing the continued use of its name and all of its products, other than two beers (Boss Black and Boss Boss) where a slight change of the name was agreed upon.
"As an open-minded company we would like to clarify that we do not oppose the free use of language in any way and we accept the generic term 'boss' and its various and frequent uses in different languages."
Meanwhile, Hugo Boss (the comedian) revealed the stunt has been long in planning, and that he has secured his own trademark including the word 'Boss':
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