A tale of two Daves: TV channel faces legal challenge over name

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Within the television industry, the birth of Dave was seen as a move of strategic brilliance. The re-branding of the clunkily-named UKTV G2 transformed a marginal channel with a schedule based almost exclusively on repeats into a ratings success.

The new matey moniker helped convince viewers that the network really did live up to its new catchphrase as "The Home of Witty Banter". Within weeks of the relaunch in 2007, Dave was achieving remarkable audience growth. When questioned on the logic behind its strategy, UKTV explained: "Everybody knows a bloke called Dave."

So it is a pity that, following a legal wrangle involving the European Union, the broadcaster might be obliged to call the channel something else. And let's face it, there's probably not a Davie in every social circle, and David just isn't very blokey at all.

Three years ago, TV audiences thought Dave seemed very fresh. In recognition of the channel's impact, one newspaper gave UKTV an Innovation Award, while advertisers also took note. It was "a very impressive performance", said Simon Bevan, head of TV for media planning and buying agency Vizeum. He claimed viewers felt a personal attachment to their new discovery, adding: "Most of them thought that it was a completely new format and new channel."

Except not only was it not a new channel, it wasn't even a new name for a media brand. Almost next door to UKTV's offices in London's Great Portland Street were the headquarters of Engine communications group, which had named its brand consultancy Dave some four years earlier.

The new ad agency won business with prestigious clients including ITV, Nokia and Argos, but did not register its name as a trademark, something that UKTV – a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media – sought to do after establishing its new channel.

Dan Bobby, founder of Dave the brand consultancy, said the broadcaster's use of the same name had caused many problems, not just relating to postal issues. "Lots of our clients are media companies. We operate in a small world and it felt uncomfortably close, not just geographically but emotionally," he said.

Engine made a legal challenge to the trademark application and last week the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market ruled in favour of the consultancy, citing its earlier use of the name. Mr Bobby admitted he wished he had registered the name in 2003: "Unfortunately we were a bit slow on the uptake."

UKTV said it was confident of overturning the ruling on appeal, saying: "At no stage has there ever been any confusion between us and brand consultancy Dave Soho. We run a very successful channel and they're a brand consultancy agency."

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