No costs in Discovery-History trademark case

January 16, 2014 11.53 Europe/London By Julian Clover

The judge in the dispute brought by AETN UK against Discovery Communications Europe over its Discovery History brand has said the case should never made it to court.

Justice Peter Smith said no costs should be awarded to either side. “The claimants’ costs are around £2 million and the defendant’s costs are around £1 million, £3 million in total,” he said. “I already observed in argument that it is a shame they did not spend 3 million enhancing the quality of the programmes in the channels, in which case they would get more than their average viewers of 15,000.”

Discovery History was launched as Discovery Knowledge in November 2010. Three years later it changed its brand in an attempt to make a distinction with the scripted reality shows carried on competitors History and Yesterday.

This drew the attention of AETN UK (A+E Networks) that operates History in the UK market.

Justice Smith was scornful of the action: “I could not for the life of me see how the claimants could realistically expect a court would stop the defendants using the word History to identify the programmes that are on the channel,” he said, pointing out the facts were identical to an earlier case that had been taken against UK TV History.

AETN argued the name Discovery History would confuse the public, causing them to believe the channel is connected with History.