Nipped in the bud: Hollywood loses battle of Charlie's Angels

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A flower grower won a legal battle yesterday with a Hollywood film studio for the right to market Charlie's Angels petunias, which he named after his son, not the cult 1970s series.

Peter Wood, managing director of R Delamore Ltd, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said the name was inspired by his son Charlie, 12, who had been described by his mother as a "little angel". Mr Wood said his family had not seen the original 1970s show, or the Columbia Pictures remake, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. He maintained that the choice of name was purely coincidental.

Judge Trott, the Principal Hearing Officer for the Trademarks Registrar, ruled that the flowers were too removed from Columbia's property for the public mistakenly to connect them to the film.

Mr Wood, whose company supplies plant cuttings and young plants to commercial growers in the UK, said in a witness statement that he began testing petunias in the late 1990s. By summer 2000, he had selected the best performing three varieties in pink, purple and white.

"I decided to market these plants under the name Charlie's Angels in honour of my son, Charlie Wood [the youngest of his three boys]. Charlie had helped me grow the plants while I was testing and selecting them over two summers ... Charlie's mother, Ann, had frequently referred to Charlie as 'her little angel' and it was Charlie's own idea to call the plants his Angels," he added.

Columbia Pictures had challenged Mr Wood's application to register the trademark for the range of plants and flowers and related items, arguing that he had deliberately chosen the name to benefit from the publicity surrounding the film, and that the public would be confused into thinking his flowers were endorsed by the studio. The registrar said the studio's challenge was based on "a lot of supposition, without any basis in evidence". He ordered the film studio, which last year released the movie sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, to pay Mr Wood £2,000 towards his legal costs.