Barry Ferns

Barry Ferns

Nominated for best compere at the Chortle Awards in 2014 for his work with the Angel Comedy Club in London, Barry Ferns first started as stand-up in 1995, aged 17. But then he quit stand-up to make Edinburgh Fringe sketch shows, including The Leisure Virus in 2000, Doreen the following year and This Sketch Show Belongs to Lionel Richie, which began in 2007 and became better known for its marketing ideas than its content – including Ferns legally changing his name to Lionel Richie. In August 2008, Ferns started stand-up again and in 2012 got to the final of the Leicester Square Comedian Of The Year competition.
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Comedians threatened with legal action over Choose Your Own Adventure show

Publisher says title infringes their trademark

Two comedians have been forced to change the name of their Brighton Fringe show – after being threatened with legal action for breaking a trademark.

Barry Ferns and Alasdair Beckett-King had planned to perform an interactive hour called Choose Your Own Comedy Adventure.

However, the small show attracted the attention of the US-based publishers of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, saying the title was ‘an issue for our legal team’.

Associate publisher Melissa Bounty got in touch and politely asked them to change the name, pointing out:’We maintain the trademark. As the mark has been used exclusively in coordination with the book series and related licenses, we must be very careful in monitoring outside uses.’

‘Usually, people are completely unaware that the phrase is trademarked and that a use without permission can cause dilution of the trademark, making an issue for our legal team.’

The publishers are especially keen to protect their intellectual property as they have licensed the format out to the Fox movie studio, which is making a film that will allow audiences to choose what happens next via an app on their smartphones.

Ferns denied there could be any confusion between his show and the books, saying: ‘Our show is very much comedy adventure, the onus on comedy,   which I wasn’t aware that the Choose Your Own Adventure books were. Though perhaps they are against anyone choosing any adventure unless they are paid for the privilege.’

However he said had no stomach for a legal battle over four free Fringe show in a relatively small venue, the Caroline Of Brunswick. 

So instead he and Beckett-King came up with a new title that doesn’t infringe copyright law:  Barry and Alasdair's Non-Trademark-Infringing Comedy Adventure (Where the Audience Chooses)

It will be on at 3.45pm this Sunday and Monday, and again on June 2 and 3.

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Published: 1 May 2018

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