When the ‘Urban Spaceman’ met the Litigant in Person

♫ I’m the urban spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed
I’ve got everything I need
I’m the urban spaceman, baby; I can fly
I’m a supersonic guy 

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band was formed in 1962, securing a recording contract in 1967. A year later, they achieved chart success when ‘I’m an Urban Spaceman’ produced by ‘Apollo C. Vermouth’ (aka Paul McCartney) reached #5 in the UK. Over the years, the make-up of the Band had some parallels to Trigger’s Broom.

In 2005, a promoter and manager by the name of Carruthers organised an anniversary concert. Following on the success of this, the Band continued to perform – culminating in an Anthology album in 2016.  

Mr Carruthers filed a trademark in 2015 which was accepted by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) without objection.

In 2017, some of the Band members applied to the IPO for a declaration that the trademark registration was invalid, seeking its cancellation on the grounds that it had been registered in bad faith. While this case was ongoing, Mr Carruthers commenced High Court proceedings as a Litigant in Person making various allegations against the band including their ‘racist and sociopathic tendencies’. In October 2019, the IPO upheld the Band’s application cancelling the trademark.

The High Court recently delivered judgement via Skype on the Band’s application to strike out the claim:

The causes of action pleaded are incomplete, prolix, offend the principle of absolute privilege and many of the facts underlying the causes of action have been decided by the Registrar giving rise to issue estoppel. The witness evidence provided to defend this application is disparate, and often contains inadmissible opinion evidence, bare assertion and irrelevancies. 

Aside from the opportunity to quote cheesy lyrics, the case highlights that just because you can represent yourself doesn’t mean you should.

♫ I’m the urban spaceman, baby; here comes the twist… I don’t exist! 

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Slater v Anglo Atlantic Media Ltd [2020] EWHC 710 (Ch)

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