A British comedian has legally changed his name to Hugo Boss to protest behavior by the German fashion company.
Comedian Joe Lycett announced on Twitter on Sunday that he had changed his name via deed poll to Hugo Boss.
In a statement posted online, the 31-year-old comedian claimed that the fashion brand had sent cease and desist letters to several small businesses and charities who have used the word “Boss,” costing them thousands of pounds in legal and rebranding costs.
He said in a tweet that it was “clear” the company “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,” he added.
A spokesperson for Hugo Boss told CNN in a statement that as an “open-minded company” they do not oppose the free use of language in any way. “We accept the generic term ‘boss’ and its various and frequent uses in different languages,” the spokesperson added.
Hugo Boss Group made sales of $1.4 billion (€1.3 billion) in 2018, according to their most recent annual report.
In an interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire on Monday, Lycett said that Welsh brewery Boss Brewing was sent a cease and desist letter by Hugo Boss after trying to trademark some beers.
Lycett said that the brewery had spent £10,000 in legal fees, and had been forced to rebrand as a result.
“I think it’s sort of a massive company taking on a little company, and it’s not fair. And nobody’s going to confuse a beer with Hugo Boss. I don’t think I’d splash myself with Heineken in the morning on my neck,” he said.
“I would like them to stop doing this, stop sending these cease and desist letters, because no one’s confusing these two things. They’re not confusing these two brands,” he said, adding that he also wanted Hugo Boss to financially compensate Boss Brewing, and stop sending similar letters to other businesses.
Boss Brewing described the reaction to Lycett’s name change as “a David and Goliath win.”
A Hugo Boss spokesperson said that the brand “enjoys increased protection not only against trademarks for similar goods, but also for dissimilar goods across all product categories for our brands and trademarks Boss and Boss Black and their associated visual appearance.”
“Following the application by Boss Brewing to register a trademark similar to our well-known trademark, we approached them to prevent potential misunderstanding regarding the brands Boss and Boss Black, which were being used to market beer and items of clothing,” the spokesperson said.
“Both parties worked constructively to find a solution, which allows Boss Brewing the continued use of its name and all of its products, other than two beers (Boss Black and Boss Boss) where a slight change of the name was agreed upon.”