ECB ponders legal action November 25, 2006

Barmy Army under fire over Ashes copyright

Cricinfo staff

The Barmy Army's woeful start to the Ashes series has continued, mirroring the fortunes of their countrymen on the field. After threatening a boycott of the series because of what they said was unfair treatment by Gabba security staff, the group of supporters has come under fire from the England board for alleged copyright breaches on merchandise.

The Daily Telegraph reported the ECB had started legal proceedings to stop Barmy Army Ltd from selling items such as polo shirts and t-shirts bearing references to the Ashes and carrying the ECB's logo of three lions and a crown. The board denied legal action had been started but said it was a possibility in the future.

The ECB spokesman Colin Gibson told AFP the board had written to the Barmy Army querying the use of the logo and the term "Ashes" on merchandise. "We have written to them pointing out breaches of our IP [intellectual property] and are waiting for their response," he said. "No one wants legal action if possible."

The Sports HQ, the company that produces the merchandise, said the ECB had only made applications for The Ashes trademark. "The Barmy Army have used The Ashes mark since 1994, so they have a prior claim to it which potentially prevents the ECB from using it," Simon Millington, a partner of The Sports HQ told the Daily Telegraph.

"The shame is that the Barmy Army do a wonderful job in organising supporters and supporting grass roots cricket. The ECB should try to work together instead of making spurious claims." Millington plans to speak to the ECB next week.