A gay bar owner in Manchester has taken a battle over who has the right to use the word ‘Queer’ to the High Court.
Nigel Martin-Smith, the owner of Queer in Manchester and the man who originally managed the boyband Take That, is suing the owners of another gay bar called Queer Street in Birmingham, reports the Daily Mail.
Mr Martin-Smith claimed that the recently opened bar Queer Street is exploiting the reputation of his bar Queer, opened in 2003 and situated on Canal Street in the heart of Manchester’s gay village. Mr Martin-Smith’s company Bar Queer Ltd was granted the trademark to the word ‘QUEER’ (in capitals) earlier this year.
His barrister Robert Onslow said Mr Martin-Smith’s venue “has accrued goodwill in its business which has become exclusively denoted by the word ‘QUEER’”.
He also claimed that Queer spent as much as £60,000-a-month on building up their brand reputation by advertising in gay press and magazines since it opened and that the “exclusive goodwill” attached to the word ‘QUEER’ “extends nationally”, is the property of Bar Queer Ltd and that rival bar Queer Street is causing public confusion.
Mr Martin-Smith has demanded the removal of the word ‘QUEER’ from “all articles and premises” in connection with Queer Street, as well as covering any damages and legal costs. His barrister said that QUEER’s goodwill could be “tarnished and diluted” unless Queer Street changed its name.
On behalf of Queer Street, Andrew Norris defended: “It is denied that the Queer Street name and logo give rise to a likelihood of deception in the minds of the relevant public.
“The only element common to the name and logo of both bars is the word Queer. Both bars are directed towards the gay community. The word Queer is commonly and colloquially understood as describing someone who is gay, thus Queer in these circumstances has a descriptive meaning.
“References to queer bars or nightclubs would be understood by members of the relevant public to be a reference to a bar or nightclub that was directed to members of the gay and lesbian community.
“It is admitted that a bar has traded in Manchester under and by reference to the name QUEER for several years. It is admitted that the bar has acquired a reputation and goodwill in the gay community in and around Manchester. It is denied that any such goodwill extends throughout the UK.”
He concluded: “If the claimant is the owner of the alleged goodwill, it had only limited value.”
The case continues.