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Elton John World News: Day 1: Judge courts controversy in Blue legal case

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Blue vs. Blue as 1970s band is compared to Charleston

Sunday 29 June 2003 @ 8:18 - GMT

A court case over the rights to the band name Blue and which began on June 26, 2003, has started with flair, youth and controversy - from the presiding judge.

Mr Justice Hugh Laddie defied his professions image when three ageing Scots rockers took on a boy band in a battle over the use of a name.

The Paisley trio, called Blue, are suing the current chart-topping boy band of the same name for up to £5 million, claiming confusion about the names is damaging their recording career and reputation.

Mr Justice Hugh Laddie had been told by Charles Purle, QC, that the reputation of his clients, the original Blue - brothers Hugh and David Nicholson, from East Kilbride, and Ian MacMillan, from Paisley, all now in their fifties - was being threatened by the new boy band because fans might confuse the two.

The judge asked him: "Are you seriously saying that fans of one group would mistake one for the other?

"There is somewhat a difference of appearance. One is aged like you and me, the other is a boy band."


Mr Purle countered: "My clients were a boy band in the 1970s."

The judge replied: "Oh no. Boy band is a style of music that is a bit more recent than the Charleston."

Old Blue: Hugh & David Nicholson at CourtDay1Judgecourtscontroversy
The veteran Blue are expected to produce evidence from Sir Elton John to confirm that the band was signed 30 years ago to his Rocket record label and that he produced their album Another Night Time Flight.

Mr Purle said that if old Blue fans heard the new Blue music they would be very disappointed.

The judge commented: "Ever so occasionally, the real world creeps in. Are you seriously suggesting that anybody who hears the defendants music could believe that it was your clients performing? Its inconceivable.

"Your clients music is of an entirely different style and from an entirely different era and with a different attraction. Its like comparing jazz with chamber music."

Mr Purle replied: "I am not sure the gulf is that great. Both have recorded with Elton John and he is a very freestyle musician."

The judge heard that the old Blue toured as support band for performers such as Kiki Dee, Small Faces and Leo Sayer, as well as performing on their own.

The current Blue - Duncan James, Anthony Costa, Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe - who released their first single All Rise in 2001 and now have a large teenage following, insist there is "no merit" in the case against them.

Ironically, one of their 2002 hit singles was a collaboration with Sir Elton, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.

Apparently, the judge, Mr Justice Laddie, is an expert on the law involving trademark and copyright and has a wide taste in music, taking in jazz, blues and rock.

The case continues.
 

All Rise, Your Honour - Friday, June 27 2003 at 07:16:44