In Brief

Why has comedian Joe Lycett changed his name to Hugo Boss?

Stand-up changes name by deed poll in protest at fashion brand's legal tactics

The comedian Joe Lycett has changed his name to Hugo Boss by deed poll as a protest against the clothing brand’s legal action against small businesses and charities that use the word boss in their names. 

The Guardian says the stand-up’s “surreal revenge mission” is being taken on behalf of a number of small businesses, including Welsh craft brewery Boss Brewing, which was landed with a £10,000 legal bill after the luxury designer brand sent it a cease-and-desist letter.

On his Twitter page, where he has changed his account name to Hugo Boss, the comedian wrote: “So Hugo Boss (who turnover approx $2.7bn 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.”

He added: “It’s clear that Hugo Boss 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 Hugo Boss. Enjoy.”

The 31-year-old says he will be “launching a brand new product as Hugo Boss”, details of which would be revealed on the new series of Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.

Sarah John, one of the founders and owners of Boss Brewing, said the comedian’s move was “such a brilliant way of showing support”.

Kate Swaine, intellectual property partner at Gowling WLG, told the BBC: “Joe Lycett's actions shine a light on the potential negative PR implications when undertaking a brand enforcement program.

“Even where a brand is legitimately enforced, brandowners must be alive to where issues may arise in relation to smaller businesses or individual use.”

German label Hugo Boss was founded in 1924 in Germany, and infamously supplied uniforms for the Nazi party. It has apologised for its maltreatment of forced workers during the Second World War.

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