His grip on the music industry is so tight his contracts famously cover the UK, the world and "throughout the universe". However, Simon Cowell has been humbled by a grassroots charity in a row over one of the acts on this year's X Factor.
The show's executive producer has agreed to make a donation to Rhythmix, the Brighton-based charity that helps disabled and vulnerable young people through music, who protested when its name was copied by an all-girl group on the ITV programme. The figure remains a secret but it is understood it will more than cover the £20,000 legal costs the charity has racked up in a legal fight to protect its trademark.
The agreement was reached on Friday between Rhythmix's chief executive, Mark Davyd, and Cowell's company SyCo, through the PR agent Max Clifford.
The charity took legal action against SyCo after Cowell attempted to trademark the name for the all-girl group. The charity's cause was taken up by celebrities including Stephen Fry, Armando Iannucci and Alistair McGowan. SyCo withdrew the application earlier this month but Rhythmix was still faced with huge legal costs that threatened to hinder its work, which involves employing teachers to help 40,000 young people learn about music. The girl group was renamed Little Mix.
Mr Davyd, who had described the legal battle with Cowell as "ludicrous", said yesterday: "We are very pleased this has been brought to an amicable conclusion. These are difficult times for charities, and we are very pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement with SyCo to put this matter behind us."
Fry hailed the deal on Twitter yesterday, saying: "Hurrah. Simon Cowell's company did the decent thing and came to a satisfactory arrangement with the charity Rhythmix about their name."
Rhythmix is now gearing up for another David and Goliath battle – this time with the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, over plans for music provision in schools. The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the publication of the Government's national music plan has been delayed amid a row over ring-fencing funding.
Campaigners want music education to remain protected and are pressing for greater support for children with special educational needs and those described as gifted. Mr Davyd added that ministers had to acknowledge the link between this summer's riots and the closure of youth centres when planning music provision.